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Spalding's market stalls policy 'called in' for rethink after traders' complaints

Pressure has grown for a decision not to provide stalls for market day traders in Spalding to be looked at again.

Fears that some stallholders have quit the town after changes to how markets are run on Tuesdays and Saturdays were raised at a meeting on Monday.

Three members of South Holland District Council whose wards are in Spalding, Couns Rob Gibson, Manzur Hasan and Angela Newton, triggered the meeting to ask for the decision to temporarily suspend the supply, putting up and taking down of market stalls to be reviewed.

Couns Manzur Hasan (front right) and Rob Gibson with market stallholders in Spalding.Photo supplied.(38517286)
Couns Manzur Hasan (front right) and Rob Gibson with market stallholders in Spalding.Photo supplied.(38517286)

The decision, described by one market trader as "underhanded", was made by the council as part of allowing street markets to reopen across South Holland from June 15 after an easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions by the Government.

Markets reopened in Spalding on June 16 but on the same day, trader Craig Lyons said: "I was given seven days' notice to get a stall and put it up.

"As traders, we weren't allowed to have tables or vans because we were told there was no room.

"I understand that we've got to be socially distanced but this business has been on the market for 37 years.

"The way the council has gone about reopening the markets is terrible and I just think it's been underhanded."

Monday's meeting involved members of the council's Performance Monitoring Panel, a body that reviews decisions made by portfolio holders who make up the cabinet.

It was confirmed during the meeting that three market traders had given up their pitches since the reopening, while another four "didn't feel they were ready to return yet".

Speaking on Monday, Coun Newton said: "Stalls should continue to be provided at Spalding Market until the end of this financial year, or until proper and meaningful discussion is held with market traders or their representatives.

"The whole issue should be subject to a more thorough examination to enable the council to find a way to rebuild the market into an attractive and viable one, supporting the economic viability of the town and the district."

Panel members voted seven to six, with one abstention, to ask cabinet members to review the council's non-provision of market stalls during a meeting on Tuesday.

Before the vote, Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, the council's portfolio holder with responsibility for markets, told panel members: "I certainly understand the concerns of traders, but this was strictly about how we saw the market being dealt with in a COVID-19 situation.

"Given the guidance on two-metre separation when working, we had to respond as we saw best and it's so important to acknowledge the fact that the putting up and dismantling of market stalls could not be done safely and in compliance with two-metre separation.

"But no decision has been made about a permanent change to the provision of market stalls."

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