One of the oldest farmers’ markets in the south-west may have to move or close down because Mid-Devon District Council wants to charge rent on its site.

Cullompton Farmers Market, held every second Saturday of the month, started up eight years ago on a rent-free site.

However, the council now wants to charge £684 a year, which the market claims would cripple stallholders, who already pay £240 a year for their plots.

“It would just make the market unviable – for many it would force the decision to give up,” said market chairwoman Tracy Frankpitt.

“We attract a lot of revenue for the council through car parking, and help support local businesses in the town.

We do have the option to move to an out-of-town site, but then there would be no public benefit.”

The council said it was only operating on business terms, but would consider a representation from the market over its future.

The National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association said there was no nationwide trend towards higher rents, and market numbers were still increasing.

“But in retail, location is everything,” added managing agent Gareth Jones.