Market traders treated with contempt

Photo: Chairman Canterbury Market Traders’ Association, Steve Bamber, and Julie Wassmer


Julie Wassmer

The Kent Messenger Gazette has today kindly published a letter from me in which I cite what I personally view as nothing short of intimidation of Canterbury traders who are, in effect, being coerced to respond to a council consultation, the conditions of which their representative, Steve Bamber, has described as both “unacceptable” and “unworkable.” 

My letter follows here:-

Hundreds of residents who have signed a petition to Save Canterbury Market continue to be amazed that Canterbury City Council still plans to scatter traders’ pitches to outposts all over the city while disbanding the historic market from its central St George’s Street location – a nonsensical pre-pandemic policy decision that should be reversed in the light of post-pandemic reality.  

Does it make sense to waste £1.2m of council tax payers’ money in “developing” St George’s Street to provide a few benches and some new paving while depriving Canterbury of a market that not only provides colour and character for visitors but also serves the community with well-priced produce during the current cost-of-living crisis?  

Disabled residents tell me that good access to Disabled parking in the city makes Canterbury market a priority shopping venue for them – but without it they will go elsewhere – resulting in even more loss of trade in a city in which almost every other shop now appears to have gone out of business, judging by the empty shop facades.  

A speech recently delivered to the council from Canterbury Market Traders’ Association Chairman, Steve Bamber, powerfully highlighted that a new council consultation on this issue is viewed as a “betrayal of trust” by market traders, as the new pitch proposals are both “unacceptable and unworkable”.  

Last week, Mr Bamber went on to make public a letter he had written to council officer, Bill Hicks, on 12th June, in which he cited grave concerns about this consultation, which the council saw fit to launch without liaising with traders; such sites as Station Road West and Ironmonger Row being totally unacceptable to market traders who would never survive in these locations.

It now seems par for the course that traders should be treated by the council with such contempt; last Friday they were also treated to an e-mail from council officer, David Harte, informing them that if they fail to respond to the consultation, which they consider to be a “sham”, the council “will look to accommodate those who have responded and then only after this will consider others who still wish to trade, but have not responded.”  

I might describe this as the final insult but I have no doubt the council will continue to amaze us even further with insults to our market traders, and to the good judgement of all the residents who support them in opposing this unreasonable policy, which reeks of social prejudice and should be overturned by the myopic administration that shamefully appears hell bent on trying to steamroller it through.  

The petition to Save Canterbury Market can be signed at:    

PLEASE SAVE THE DATE! There will be a PUBLIC MEETING on this issue in Canterbury on Friday 29th July at 6.30 pm. Full details coming soon.


Julie Wassmer: photo by Jon Eldude

Julie Wassmer is a TV drama writer, author and campaigner. Her Whitstable Pearl crime novels, and the TV series based them, are set in Canterbury and its neighbouring town of Whitstable, where she has lived for 23 years. 

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