Business as usual at farmers market after council ‘clarifies’ position

Get your blue potatoes … Brixton farmers market yesterday

It was business as usual at Brixton’s Sunday farmers market yesterday (9 April), despite Lambeth council’s apparent threat to close it. Traders gathered in the sunshine to hear market organiser Emma Kendall announce that the market will continue with the support of the Brixton Market Traders Federation.

She said: “The council has backtracked thanks to the support of the community and traders.” An online petition had raised more than 800 signatures in a matter of days and a Save Our Market campaign had launched on social media.

Tensions had been high as a result of the letter to quit, which gave current licencees Emma and her partner Lee Griffin less than a month’s notice to go.

Since then, Lambeth council has clarified that the market can continue with the support of the Brixton Market Trader’s Federation.

Its operations director John Gordon addressed the farm stallholders and reassured them it will be business as usual.

A council statement said the notice to quit was a result of the organsers’ failure to set up a community interest company.

Emma said that, despite repeated attempts to liaise with the council officers, emails and phone calls had not been returned.

Meetings had been cancelled and delays occurred while the council sorted out what type of licence was needed. She had been under the impression that the detailed structure, including the community interest company, would be sorted out once there was a new agreement.

Traders in the now closed Network Rail arches also complain of delays and communication difficulties when trying to deal with the council.

The council statement had claimed that the market was being run as a “commercial enterprise”. Emma said: “The previous organisers of the market withdraw because it wasn’t making a profit. We knew that when we took it on. It’s not what we’re about. We are not rich, and it was absolutely not for profit.

“I’m pleased the future of the market is secure with John and the federation. Hopefully the solution will be a permanent one. The support we have had from shoppers, stallholders and the public has been amazing.”

Permanent retail traders in the road and nearby are already under huge pressure as their takings drop because of Network Rail’s forced closure of most of its arches with no sign of work on the promised refurbishment starting.

Brixton Market Traders Federation is already looking at ways to attract more people to Brixton Station Road, including offering weekday stalls to non-food traders for as little as £10 a day.

John Gordon of Brixton Market Traders Federation at the market on Sunday with Emma Kendall (right) and Alex Tildesley, who will continue to help with its management

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