APRIL 12 - 25, 2019 No. 4950 70p Traders at risk of fines

Traders in a Bedfordshire town who continue to work in windy conditions when the town market has been cancelled for health and safety reasons have been threatened with a fine of up to £500. It was noted that around

five stalls were still trading in Leighton Buzzard on Saturday March 16, even though high winds had prompted Leighton- Linslade Town Council to cancel the market on safety grounds. But stallholders claim that

while “impractical” gazebos may not be safe in the wind, they are able continue trading on tables and from trailers in order to sell their goods, many of which are perishable. Kevin Morgan Jones, who

runs a stall at the town’s monthly farmers’ market, told local media: “I think the cancellation policy definitely needs to be urgently reviewed. I’m not happy about the threat of a fine – I think it’s unnecessary. “Although I understand

the health and safety issue, some of this has been brought about by the very pretty but impractical gazebos. The old stalls were much more stable. “Traders like myself are

unaffected by the weather and we’re competing with supermarkets, who are there come rain or shine. “Common sense dictates

how we should react to the weather – those of us who have been trading 20 years or more know when the weather is too bad.” A spokesman for the town council said that its market cancellation pol icy was already under review, and told local media that a series of workshops would explore “other imaginative options” to keep the market open where possible. He added: “In the meantime, and to try and avoid the situation where traders continue to trade with impunity despite the market being officially closed, the town council has been forced to carefully consider more drastic measures that include a fine, for example.

ISSN 2057–6781 “Let’s not forget, the health

and wellbeing of our residents and visitors prevails, and if our action is putting people at risk then we need to be addressing this in the most appropriate fashion. “The town council has

made itself clear that as the position of very last resort, it is considering fining those traders who continually flout health and safety regulations and continue trading when the market has been closed. “The issue rests with insurance cover when the town council, as market operator, deems the weather too dangerous to operate and closes the market. “In this case, the insurance

cover of both the market operator as well as the market traders themselves is void, putting both the market trader and the public at risk should an incident arise. “We take the decision

to close the market very seriously and it is based on both our own experience as well as Met Office weather forecasts. Gusts of wind in excess of 40mph cause damage and will basically mean the market is closed. “The High Street by virtue

of its design and orientation acts like a funnel, with high winds tending to be channelled down its entire length. “In terms of the market operation we try and give as much notice as possible, recognising that some traders

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Leighton Buzzard market

who purchase perishable goods need to know as soon as practicable. “All our traders are aware

that we use the Met Office weather forecast as the benchmark against which a decision is taken, and we urge them as traders to heed the weather warnings issued by the Met Office. “If gusts are predicted

to be in excess of 40mph, then there is every likelihood that the market will have to close in accordance with the endorsed town council cancellation policy. “However, what we cannot allow is the flagrant disregard

of council policy which puts both individuals and property at risk when a market has been cancelled. “Irrespective of the market

structures, if the weather makes erecting, dismantling or trading from structures a risk then there is every legitimate reason to cancel the market. “The town council has been consistent in its position, which sadly is not the case with certain traders, who will decide on the day whether they wish to trade irrespective of the town council’s position on the matter. “The lack of consistency

Market bucking the trend

Markets in a Shropshire town are seeing a major upturn in their fortunes after the number of stalls there trebled in the last two years. Like many other towns across the UK,

there were fears that Oswestry could lose its markets altogether, but the chairman of Oswestry Town Council’s markets committee revealed recently that the markets were now bucking the national trend. Cllr Paul Milner said that while stall

numbers were not reaching the heady heights of the 1960s and 70s, they were definitely rising. According to the figures, in 2017/18 there

were weeks when there were only five stalls on the Saturday market, while in 2018/19 many weekends saw around 20 stallholders present. “We must thanks the traders who stuck with our markets and did not leave us,”

Cllr Milner told local media. “With the new initiatives brought in by the council and our markets manager, the trend has reversed and we are now seeing numbers of stalls climbing. “Oswestry town council continued to

believe in the markets when other towns closed theirs and for that I am extremely grateful.” Cllr Milner said that the decision to move

the stalls from the town’s Bailey Head into Bailey Street had been the catalyst for the upturn. “It is now paying dividends for the markets

and the town. When the markets are busy then the whole town is busy. The gamble of going down the street is paying off.” Oswestry has weekly outdoor markets on

Wednesdays and Saturdays and a monthly Friday Artisan Market. It also has a thriving indoor market open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

from the market traders does little for market shopper confidence either.” Leighton Buzzard charter

market opens in the town’s high street every Tuesday and Saturday, and is joined on the first Saturday of each month by pop-up stalls run by budding entrepreneurs selling new products.

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