FORMER tenants of Swindon’s tented market say doubled rent charges have scared them off returning.

The market is due to open its doors once more on September 25, but some former traders say they cannot afford to move back into the town centre landmark.

An open day was held yesterday to give prospective businesses a chance to look at the refurbished facility.

Debbie Mifsud, 47, ran aromatherapy store Miffies for five years before leaving when the market closed in 2007.

“I’m scared to come back,” she said. “I just wouldn’t be able to survive with these prices. When I was here before I was paying £500 a month but now they are asking £800 just for rent.

“I’m also concerned about the fact they are talking about a six-month lease and then renegotiating it. I just feel like there’s no security here.”

Ms Mifsud, of Toothill, was given six weeks’ notice when the market closed and ended up moving to a shop in Morley Street.

After a year she found she could not afford to stay in the premises and was forced out of business.

She said of the market: “I would still like to come back because it had something special, but at these prices I just can’t.”

Cyril Benson, who ran Jumbo Snacks for 12 years, said it would cost him almost as much to move back into the market as to stay in his new Havelock Street home.

He said: “Have they seen the number of empty shops in Swindon? And they’re still putting up their prices.

“I had four years left on my lease when the market closed down and now they are saying I would only get six months. The way things are at the moment that would be a risk.

“I spent money on getting the cafe right, then had to do it all again when I moved to Morley Street then Havelock Street. Now I would have to do it again.”

Andrew and Maria Halliday, who run gothic clothing store Moontanic, said new owners CJV properties were asking £140 a week for a plot that originally cost them £70.

Mr Halliday said: “The situation is quite ridiculous. When the market closed down we looked around for a new property and found a cheaper site in London than we could find in the town centre of Swindon.”

However, Mrs Halliday did have its plus points. She said: “You get such good passing trade.

“People are coming from the town centre and see something that grabs them, then come in to look around.”

Melvyn Davis, of the tented market’s new owners, CJV Properties, agreed prices were noticeably higher than in 2007.

He said: “The previous owners were losing a lot of money and that is why they were forced to close. We do not want to make the same mistakes. The six month lease is there to give security to us and the traders.

“We have had a lot of interest from businesses wanting to come into the market and we are really looking forward to the official opening on September 25. This will give Swindon shoppers more choice and I’m sure they will welcome its return.”