Market traders have spoken of being 'insulted' after they were asked to wear Santa outfits in return for discounted rent by council officials over the festive period.

South Tyneside Council offered the stallholders a £5 cut in daily rent over three days if they donned festive outfits or decorated their stalls with tinsel.

The council described it as a 'light hearted incentive' aimed at attracting more customers.

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However, some traders at South Shields Market failed to see the funny side, branding the scheme 'demeaning'.

Market trader Robbie Ridley, 57, said: "It is a total disgrace and ridiculous.

"Why should we have to dress up as Santa just to get £5 off our rent? It is demeaning."

The grandfather says last week he was forced to shut in the afternoon because of a festive procession.

"A load of camels were paraded through the town, it must have cost a bomb, and I had to to shut after the morning because of it. It's not fair."

Fellow trader Lynn Lucas added: "Can you honestly see me fitting into a size 12 Santa outfit? Maybe one side of my body might. It's not going to happen!"

A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: "The reduction in rent and competition prize are a light-hearted incentive to thank traders for helping to make the market a fun place to visit in the run-up to Christmas."