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Anger over Wokingham council charges for virtual Christmas fair

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Anger over Wokingham council charges for virtual Christmas fair



A council has been criticised for charging small businesses £20 each to join its virtual Christmas fair.


One local trader described it as a "cynical" attempt by Wokingham Borough Council to profit from small companies trying to survive the current climate.


Julie LeFevre said: "It doesn't seem a lot but they are profiting from small traders who are struggling."


Councillor Stuart Munro defended the fees which go towards administrative support for those who sign up.


This includes help creating social media posts and promotion on the council's social media accounts, he said.


Conservative Mr Munro added: "The virtual fair was intended to spread a little bit of festive cheer after the planned in-person market and ice rink had to be cancelled [due to coronavirus restrictions]."


But Ms LeFevre, who makes and sells needle-sculpted figures, said she believed the council "has a responsibility" to help all local businesses and people who pay council tax.


"This just doesn't seem right," she said, adding: "I cannot see a difference between the council's online market and other virtual fairs that are not charging people to take part. It's just another way for the council to make money."


Opposition Lib Dem councillor Imogen Shepherd-DuBey said she thinks the fees are too high.


She added: "You've got businesses that are trying to survive and the council is clearly making a profit out of this.

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