Traders at Brighton’s only on-street market fight proposed new rules

Posted On 14 Jan 2020 at 6:27 pm

Traders at Brighton’s only regular on-street market are fighting new rules which they say could threaten its future.

At present, the rules at Upper Gardner Street allow traders to spread out from their pitch if there are gaps, so that the market doesn’t look patchy.

But residents have complained that some traders are taking advantage of the rule that you don’t need to keep to your pitch and are blocking the pavement too.

As a result, the council has proposed changing the rules to keep traders to their pitches – and so far, more than 500 people have signed a petition opposing this.

Steve Swain, who has been selling walking sticks at the market since he was a teenager in the 1970s, said that the rule change was proposed after new market inspectors were appointed last autumn and challenged traders when they spread out beyond their allocated pitch.

Mr Swain said: “If you’re down there and the guy next door hasn’t turned up or the council hasn’t let all the pitches, to keep the market looking open and working, we spread out a bit.

“The inspectors came along and said do you realise you’re over the boundary? I said yes, but do you realise that there is a rule in this market that says we are allowed to do that?”

Council rules for on-street pitches state that traders must not encroach beyond their boundary – but there is currently a specific exemption for Upper Gardner Street.

After Mr Swain’s conversation with the inspectors, a letter was sent out to traders on 28 October saying that the Upper Gardner Street exemption was going to be scrapped, following complaints about litter and obstruction.

Traders say there have also been disagreements when residents have left their cars parked along the road on market day, despite signs requesting them to keep the highway clear.

There have been accusations that boxes have been placed on the roof of cars left in the street on market day, causing damage.

Mr Swain said that as news of the rule change spread, many residents approached him to say they were opposed to it – but a letter from one neighbour asking residents to support the changes has been posted through letterboxes.

Mr Swain said: “The market has been here since the 1800s. There are fears that if the changes are implemented, this could spell the end of Upper Gardner Street market as we know it.”

A council spokesperson said: “Officers are proposing making changes to the council’s street trading policy to bring Upper Gardner Street Market in line with other street markets in the city.

“This follows complaints from residents about traders operating outside their specified marked sites and refuse being left at the end of the day.

“The proposals would require the market traders to keep within their marked out sites, and ensure that refuse is stored and removed at the end the day.

“Upper Gardner Street traders are currently exempt from these conditions.

“Pitches for the market currently cost £127.50 per quarter of a year.

“Council officers are currently working through responses to the consultation and a report is due to go before members of the licensing committee in March.”

  1. Bob Reply

    This is outrageous. The well organised market has been a fixture for visitors and residents for many years. And its a repository for local tradition. Those traders there have to be very well behaved. – It’s a tiny street in the middle of the city – on Saturday afternoon ! Thousands of people enjoy it . Its only on Saturday and as its so special it would be nice if the residents of the street enjoyed that excitement of the middle of Brighton.

  2. bradly Reply

    job-worth death

  3. BrightonReader Reply

    Walk down the market and on some Saturdays it’s more like a car park of traders vans and cars with some stalls attached.

    Some parked on the pavement and blocking residents doors.

    Look at the photo at the top of the article to see.

    Is that acceptable? Is that ‘well organised’ ?

    The pitches are on the road not the pavement. Some stall holders spread their goods on the pavement right in front of peoples doors

    Residents have no problem with the market per se but traders need to respect that it is still a residential street and not all traders do that.

  4. Prof Hector Bouloffs Reply

    It was a super little market years and years ago , but it has got a little out of hand
    and no courtesy or respect for the residents is afforded by these do as you likeky
    heathen traders 👎👎👎

  5. Steve Swain Reply

    Well over 500 people have signed the on-line petition highlighted in this report.
    See Change.org and look for;
    ‘Leave the rules of this historic market unchanged.’
    There are also many more signatures and supportive comments on the paper petitions that were available to the traders and visitors to the market.
    As opposed to the one and only anonymous comment from ‘Brighton Reader’ who seems not to have the courage of his or her convictions to sign their own name.
    No-one can dispute that peoples doorways should be left clear. Traders do need to be behind their stalls and to be able to sit and move when access is required. The majority of residents and traders understand this and generally there has been and is a good rapport.
    The photo at the top of the report was taken on Brighton Pride Day (note the costumes) when several traders were elsewhere and others had taken advantage of the spaces left to drive in and park.
    Residents had done likewise despite the very clear signs that this is a STREET MARKET from 7am -5pm EVERY SATURDAY. PLEASE DO NOT OBSTRUCT PITCHES.
    See these, photographed in the petition notes and updates.
    The Upper Gardner Street Saturday Market Facebook page is well worth a visit to see other current and historic pictures .

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