SPEECH GIVEN BY A MARKET TRADER TO THE COUNCIL

16TH June 2022


1843 map showing St. George’s Street

The council wants to develop St George’s Street with an extensive budget of £1.2 million—and to disband our long-standing market.

The chairman of our traders’ association, Steve Bamber, has tried his hardest to work with two council officers to find a good way forward for all traders – that is market traders and street traders. But we tell you now that the new pitch proposals are unacceptable and unworkable – and the new consultation is viewed by traders as a betrayal of our trust.

You have treated us with contempt and never saw fit even to give us proper warning about your plans to develop St George’s Street. We only learned of that by reading a front-page news story in the local Gazette in 2020.

That story quoted a report by council officers about the need to “de-clutter” St George’s Street because “potential new tenants” of the Whitefriars shopping centre might be “put off” taking up units due to the market—which the Whitefriars’ operator claimed was “detrimental to the area”.

Whitefriars is owned by this council so, perhaps, all along you were trying to protect your own asset above a market that has been based in Canterbury for hundreds of years?

We’ve read the recent comments on social media from the leader of the council and pitch rentals have not been renewed by the council. Why aren’t pitches rentals being renewed? And why can’t this council encourage markets to thrive instead of trying to scatter us to small pitches across the city? This will not work for traders, for residents or for visitors – who all expect a market to be in one place.

There’s no explanation in the consultation of the difference between a market trader and a street trader—OR their individual needs. A market trader needs a large gazebo pitch, and though there are more than a dozen market traders in Canterbury Market—and only 3 street traders—you make 41 small pitches available for street traders—and no gazebo pitches for market traders—other than in Iron Bar Lane – a derelict area with no surrounding retail outlets – and Station Road West; “a million miles from St George’s Street” as described by our market customers.

Snobbery

Stallholder Jeb Hughes described the council’s plans as ‘class cleansing’

Comments made by councillors who voted for this development smack of social prejudice and snobbery, but our market is a vibrant part of the city’s appeal and heritage – and much needed for residents during the current cost-of-living-crisis, as pointed out in letters to the press, and a petition signed by hundreds within the last week. It also offers safe, social interaction—post-Covid—in a way that a retail unit in Whitefriars never could.

If you think we lower the tone of St George’s Street, invest in us. Improve what we can offer to residents and visitors – and save the council taxpayer the best part of £1.2m at the same time. But withdraw your meaningless consultation and leave us where we are and where we belong. In St George’s Street.


WHAT YOU CAN DO:-

DON’T VOTE for the councillors who voted for this action. Their names are:- Rachel Carnac, Barbara Flack, Mark Dance, Georgina Glover, Colin Spooner, Ian Stockley, Jeanette Stockley, David Thomas.

AND spread the word!


More on the market Campaign


Petition: SAVE CANTERBURY MARKET

Canterbury City Council plans to close the twice-weekly market in St George’s Street in order to make way for what it dubs “Environmental Improvements” – a misnomer if ever there was one.

Canterbury Market has been established in its central location for very many years. It is widely recognised by visitors and local people as a vital and vibrant feature of the city’s heritage but for some curious reason, our frequently described “cash-strapped council” has embarked upon costly plans to permanently disband the market by January 2023 in order to create a soulless and wholly unnecessary “boulevard”—the cost of which has already risen from an original £630,000 to a staggering £1m. 

City councillor Barbara Flack said of the market area: “Many will agree it is not the first impression we want visitors to have when they arrive in our gorgeous city.” Why on earth not? Markets all over the world are a magnet for visitors and in Kent one only has to look at the popularity of Faversham Market to understand this. 

Whitstable has already lost its market and the Sunday boot fair has gone from Wincheap’s Park and Ride area. What exactly does this council have against markets? And why would it possibly consider its White Elephant legacy proposals to be improvements?   

The plans are unpopular with residents, as evidenced by the overwhelming support for the market in the first council consultation, and the thousands of signatures that were gathered in petitions (both on paper and online) before the council saw fit to suspend its original consultation and disallow the original comments in the next. So much for local democracy.  

The removal of the market will not only destroy traders’ livelihoods, it will mean the destruction of 5 much loved mature trees while depriving people of the chance to obtain market produce at significantly lower cost than in shops and stores. 

In March last year, Cllr Flack announced that the first consultation on these unpopular plans was being halted because life had “changed” due to the Covid crisis. Well, due to the economic difficulties many now face due to the current cost-of-living crisis, “life has changed” yet again, and this council would do well to listen to the many residents across this constituency who want and need Canterbury Market to remain.  

There is still time for councillors, and the council leader, Ben Mr Fitter-Harding, to see sense about their own myopic administration. We welcome them to do so. On this important issue, they should take time to talk to residents and traders, leave the mature trees where they are, forget their costly fancy “boulevards” – and allow a much loved and much needed market to flourish.

Please sign and share this petition to show your support.

Supporter comments: https://www.change.org/p/save-canterbury-market/c


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