Haverhill market closure was poorly thought out, say critics of the move by West Suffolk Council
A market trader in Haverhill and the town’s mayor have criticised West Suffolk Council’s decision to shut down all of the markets it operates.
Fruit and veg seller Paul Firman, himself a Haverhill man, and Cllr John Burns both felt the district council took a unilateral decision to shut all of its markets (which by then had been restricted to food-only stalls) as of Tuesday last week without taking into account Haverhill’s specific circumstances.
So Mr Firman decided to run his stall on the area of private land (the property of Chippy’s owner Glenn Edwards) behind Barclays Bank in the High Street last Friday and Saturday - and he will be doing so again tomorrow. He also has a pre-order and collection service run via his Facebook page.
Mr Firman said Haverhill’s market traders set up and tidy up after themselves every week and don’t actually need any WSC staff to help, so could easily have continued.
He added: “I know they (WSC) are short of staff but we are flexible. We can vary it and work round it.
“A lot of London markets have granted the food stalls free licences to trade in the streets to keep them going, so it makes you wonder really doesn’t it.
“If we close, we won’t get the customers there. We will be finished.”
Cllr Burns said: “West Suffolk Council have taken a unilateral decision across the markets, not looking at the markets themselves to see how we can safely continue trading.
“They were saying we’ve got no staff and I said ‘I don’t care, you don’t need any staff’.
“For one sole trader on a Saturday you don’t need two staff. You don’t need one staff when that person is managing their own waste.”
A council spokesperson said: “We tried very hard to keep our markets going with food stalls only, and thank everyone who supported them while socially distancing.
“However, with residents staying at home, numbers dwindled and this combined with safety and the increased demands on our staff meant the operational decision had to be made.
“We are working with traders, as we are with all other West Suffolk businesses, on initiatives to support them through the pandemic and into recovery.
“A list of those who offer a delivery service is at www.westsuffolkmarkets.co.uk/marketdeliveries.cfm and we look forward to re-opening the markets as soon as we safely can.”
More by this authorSteve Barton