Bury St Edmunds market traders' upset as West Suffolk Council bans their vans
Long-standing traders are abandoning Bury St Edmunds’ market after being told they could no longer keep their vans on site.
The decision, by West Suffolk Council, was taken on the grounds of social distancing, but has led to some traders reconsidering their pitches following the market’s re-opening last month.
The magazine, tool and shoe stalls have already left. They will soon be followed by Quite Nice Clothing and the belt stall, with other traders considering their future.
Clara Thorogood, of Quite Nice Clothing, said she felt passionately the council should be supporting independent traders rather than making life more difficult.
She cited security issues around leaving her stall unattended to drop off and collect her van as her main concern.
She has been a market trader all her life, but will leave Bury market in three weeks.
On Wednesday, she said: “Today is my first day back. The council informed me about four weeks ago I wouldn’t be able to have my van, which I normally park behind the stall, on. As a single trader having to leave the stall is a real worry. We have had things stolen before. The car parks are a considerable walk.”
Meanwhile neighbouring trader Susan Barrington is disabled and is now unable to run the stall on her own, as she cannot walk to collect her van from the multi-storey car park or Ram Meadow.
Susan said: “They (West Suffolk Council) have always wanted the vans off the market and now they’ve done it under the banner of social distancing.
“They are social distancing to the point they won’t have a market.
“It seems short-sighted to me that the council is going to turn money away and deplete the town and its vibrancy.”
Susan added that since trading without her van on site, members of the public had started sitting behind her stall to eat, in much closer proximity than they would if the van was still there.
Louis Nicoll, who has been helping his mother on the belt stall, said: “Markets are probably the easiest place to shop at the moment.
“A lot of older people have been really worried about Covid-19 and they’ve been enjoying coming to to the market again. But they are coming back to a market that’s different. The council is killing the market.”
Christian Mummery, of Mummery Brothers fish stall, said not being able to have his refrigerated vehicle was ‘a pain’.
“Trying to talk to the council is like speaking to a wall. The bottom line is we have to comply with health measures but I was told it wasn’t their problem. They’ve got no compassion,” said Christian.
“We will survive, but it is really annoying. This is not about social distancing.”
Cllr Peter Stevens, West Suffolk Council cabinet member for operations said: “We appreciate the challenges market traders and other town centre businesses face and we have worked with them during lockdown to access grants and to lobby on their behalf. Everyone has a part to play in making the high street a safe place to visit, in restoring confidence and building our recovery.”
He said the issue of vans was discussed at a Bury Market Liaison meeting on Monday, when it was agreed there should be a rule one way or another and, in fairness to all, vehicles should be moved off.
“The challenge is to create space that safely accommodates shoppers and stallholders who wish to return to Bury market, and affects two traders,” said Cllr Stevens.
“It is accepted practice at markets and other events nationwide that such vehicles are removed. It is observed by the majority of Bury traders who use the traders’ parking area set aside for them at Ram Meadow car park.”
On Wednesday, shoppers spoke of their disbelief about the new rule.
One said: “This is absolute madness. People love this market and travel to it. I don’t understand why the council is trying to impinge on it.
“At a time the economy is really struggling they are making it hard. Where have they got these guidelines about vans from? Based on what have they made this decision?
“The council should be keeping the traders it’s got. Bury is going to be a ghost town.”
More by this authorCamille Berriman
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