Customers and traders feeling the chill say they have been given FOUR different reasons why the heaters are not on in the cafe at Huddersfield open market.
Vangelis Dimopoulos, who runs the Snack Shack at the Brook Street market, contacted the Examiner last week after a Kirklees Council employee told him the heating had been switched off to save money.
Mr Dimopoulos said the move would drive away customers, hitting his business and that of stallholders.
Now a customer says he was given three different reasons for the heating being off – while a council spokesman has offered a fourth explanation by saying the heaters had been switched off at the request of stallholders who had complained about people hanging around the heaters and messing about.
The customer, who does not want to be named, said: “This market is dying. It used to be heaving. Now three-quarters of the stalls are empty. The gas heaters haven’t been on for two weeks. It’s winter and it’s freezing.
“The shop owners are there to make a living and they are being charged £45 a day for the privilege of being there. Yet the council will not put the gas heaters on for the benefit of their customers. They’ve been told that if they pay a premium the council will put them on.
“Is Kirklees Council trying to kill Huddersfield? People are rightly upset, and a lot of them are elderly or disabled.
“Owners received three excuses or reasons in one day. One was that the heaters were broken, then they were too costly to use and finally that they operate on a time switch so they can’t be used. But time switches can be over-ridden. All these excuses were made in one day.”
Mr Dimopolous said he had seen no sign of anti-social behaviour among people using the cafe. “Ninety per cent of them are pensioners who spend two or three hours at the market,” he said.
“It is common sense that if it’s so cold they will not stay here.”
A council spokesman said: “The council work closely with all our market traders to ensure they can deliver the best possible customer service and so that people visiting the market feel safe and comfortable.
“The heaters in the market have been turned off following requests from stallholders who were experiencing problems with people hanging around the heaters and carrying out anti-social behaviour.
“Heating is not provided in the open market, although stallholders can choose to plug in their own small heaters if they wish.
“The staff in the markets take all complaints and disputes seriously and work hard to resolve them in a way that is fair to everyone involved.”
The council was asked to elaborate on the claims of anti-social behaviour but has yet to respond.