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Amnesty hits out at council plans to restrict operation of parties and groups on Bury St Edmunds market

Cllr Alaric Pugh

Cllr Alaric Pugh

The Bury St Edmunds branch of human rights organisation Amnesty International has hit out at council plans to change how political parties and pressure groups can use market pitches.

Avril Dawson, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Amnesty Group, wrote to St Edmundsbury borough councillor Alaric Pugh expressing the group’s ‘strong concern’ about changes to market licence regulations, which would mean it cannot operate on the market.

A decision on the new regulations was deferred by St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet on Tuesday.

Although parties and groups can still apply to operate in the town centre on non-market days and can use other town centre locations on market days, Ms Dawson is worried about losing the lifeline the market provides.

“We are quite concerned that it means that we will be pushed aside. We feel somewhat shut down,” she said.

“Nobody has ever complained about us having a stall before. We could not understand why the regulations are being brought into place or where the idea came from.

“It is a matter of free speech, whether or not we like everything that is said.”

Cllr Alaric Pugh, cabinet member for economic growth, said: “It is very important to emphasise that these groups are not being restricted.

“We are absolutely not putting a stranglehold on free speech or democracy.”

 

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