A POPULAR flower seller says he has been robbed of his livelihood and left with nothing after bosses booted him off his prime pitch at Spalding’s Holland Market.
A crowd of loyal customers and family members gathered in the passageway alongside Argos on Saturday calling for passers-by to support Brian Markillie, who has become a familiar face for selling flowers, potted plants and wreaths over the past five years.
Mr Markillie was told at the end of March that his contract was being terminated after complaints about the untidiness of his stall and because, after five years without a rent increase, he was paying well below the going rate for the prominent pitch.
But he claims he had not been told of any complaints or rent concerns.
Mr Markillie, who lives in Holbeach St John’s, said: “They have not given me any reason for terminating my contract. I have had no verbal or written notice of any complaints because if I had I would have bent over backwards to put things right.
“I would happily have paid double the rent because I have built my business up from nothing and now they have robbed me of my livelihood. I have lost everything. Selling flowers is all I know and I’ve got nothing left.
“And to add insult to injury they have given my pitch to another flower seller.”
On Saturday a crowd of customers, including his daughter Helen, stood at his old pitch handing out leaflets and asking people to sign a petition.
So far more than 400 people have signed it.
But Michael Moran, who runs the centre, claims the scene was like something from an “anti-nuclear war demonstration” and that the protesters were shouting foul-mouthed remarks at the new stallholder.
He said: “It appears that Mr Markillie’s family had taken umbrage because they felt we had taken away his livelihood but this was the first I knew about him being unhappy.
“We had told him that he needed to up his game because his flowers were often laid out on bath sheets and that we needed to talk about a rent increase, but at no point did he say he would put things right.
“I have since spoken to Mr Markillie and told him that my agents will be contacting him to offer him another pitch elsewhere on Holland Market but that he has got to make it reasonable enough looking for Spalding town centre.”
Mr Markillie said he will consider the offer.
He said: “I am very, very upset at the moment and can’t even think clearly but I will consider this offer.
“But I can’t understand why they couldn’t have given this new trader a different pitch and left me where I was.
“My customers are in total uproar and my phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people asking what has happened.
“I haven’t been given a chance to put things right and I just feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back.”
Mr Markillie’s daughter Helen, who denies any abuse was shouted on Saturday, has set up a Facebook page in support of her father. Search for Save Brian’s Flowers Markillie.