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Outcry as new market in Swindon town centre is shut
8:20am Friday 26th October 2012 in News
traders and customers are upset about a decision to cancel a market in Havelock Square after Swindon Council voted to enforce its existing ban on street trading in the area.
Town centre management firm InSwindon set up the Thursday market six weeks ago in a bid to increase footfall for existing businesses, who fund the firm through a levy on business rates.
The council’s planning committee was told on Tuesday the organisation had gained planning permission.
But licensing officers were not approached and the market was technically illegal, because Havelock Street was a prohibited area for street trading.
The committee agreed to reinforce the ban and proposed to talk to InSwindon yesterday to encourage it to relocate to a legitimate site, with Wharf Green being the best option.
However, InSwindon’s chief executive, Simon Jackson, who claimed they had never intended the break the law, decided on Wednes-day to cancel the market immediately until further notice.
He claimed the market could not be moved to another location due to other events and activities, Yesterday, market organiser Jack McLoud and vegetable stallholder Duncan Paget stood in the square with copies of the Adver’s report to explain the situation to angry customers.
Mr Paget, of DS Paget and Co, which also has a stall at the Sunday farmers’ market at the Swindon Designer Outlet, said: “The customers we want are the ones that are here week after week after week and we built a reputation, and what’s happened has ruined our reputation.”
Customer Darren O’Connor, of Old Town, said: “We come here regularly. It’s quicker than going to the market on Sundays. It’s pathetic it’s been stopped.”
Another customer, Lynn Tracey, 49 of Toothill, said: “It was a good market, it was just getting going and to say there’s a technicality is really stupid.”
Mr McLoud, who runs markets across the south west, said he understood everything had been agreed with the council and environmental health officers had even paid a visit in previous weeks.
Richard Sell, of Mike McGuire Family Butcher, in Havelock Street, said: “Since the market we’ve noticed more people around the area and a little boost in trade and it’s a shame that it’s gone.”
Barry Cook, of the Cafelicious coffee shop, in Havelock Square, said: “Our trade increased consistently every Thursday because of the market.”
Nick Hayward, the manager of Swindon Tented Market, said he would welcome the market’s return to Market Street as it had increased footfall.