A decision to no longer put up stalls for Spalding market traders has been sent back to South Holland District Council’s cabinet.
A meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel this week concluded with the decision going back for another look and a call for some ‘meaningful discussion’ with market traders.
Coun Angela Newton said she had a lot of complaints from traders about a lack of consultation over the decision.
Traders had been told that council staff would no longer be erecting the market stalls for them in Spalding due to coronavirus. The council had said there was too much potential risk to allow staff to continue putting up the stalls in the town centre.
“Traders were not asked if they would return to Spalding market if they had to provide their own stalls,” said Coun Newton. “We appear to have lost a lot of niche traders as a result,” she added.
But Coun Roger Gambba-Jones defended the original decision which he said was based on advice given relating to the circumstances of the pandemic.
“We had to respond as we saw best,” he said.
Coun Gambba-Jones told the committee that no permanent decision had been made and there was ‘no question’ of a threat to the market.
But the number of stalls, both on Tuesday and Saturday, had fallen in recent weeks and long-time trader Tony Schofield will not be returning to the town as a result of the original decision.
Monday’s meeting saw a majority vote in favour of sending the issue back to Cabinet to reconsider and to engage in discussions with the traders.
Coun Simon Walsh said it was now the case that those staff erecting the stalls could sit in the pub for a meal, or even go on holiday together.
“I see no reason as a healthcare worker, how erecting a stall outside can be anything other than low risk,” he said.
Coun Jim Astill’s proposal to take no further action and not recall the decision was voted down.
Traders who have left include Tony Schofield of Tony’s Bygones who after 21 years has decided to move to Stamford Market instead due to the new measures being brought in.
He told The Voice: “I’ve been here 21 years and they’ve just decided to take the stands away.
“Putting the stalls up myself is difficult. I’ve only managed one whereas before I had more tables and space to sell before.
“It’s like my loyalty doesn’t mean anything.”
Market traders came together to give a presentation to Tony and his wife Jackie at their last appearance at Spalding Market.