Concerned Brighton market trader welcomes compromise on rule change

Market traders can continue to use empty pitches after councillors backed their campaign for flexible rules.

Steve Swain

Proposals went before Brighton and Hove City Council Licensing Committee to restrict stallholders at Upper Gardner Street market to staying within marked bays.

But trader Steve Swain campaigned to allow stalls to expand sideways to keep the market looking as full as possible when it operates on Saturdays.

At the Hove Town Hall meeting yesterday (Thursday 12 March), Mr Swain told the committee that Brighton’s only street market was different to pitches elsewhere where single traders selling fruit and vegetables were required to stay within their pitch areas.

Conservative councillor Dee Simson – a Sunday market trader at Brighton Marina – backed Mr Swain and asked for continued flexibility in the rules for Upper Gardner Street to make sure that it looked busy and bustling.

Rather than restricting stalls to single marked bays, she said that they should be allowed to use neighbouring pitches when empty.

Stalls would still be within the marked areas and should not spread into the road or on to the pavement.

Councillor Simson said that she had not traded at or visited the Upper Gardner Street market but understood the need to fill empty spaces.

She said:  “As a market trader, I am fully aware of the effect an empty market has on trade.

“There is nothing to see and people stop coming. It’s important to keep it looking as full as possible.”

Green councillor Lizzie Deane, who represents the North Laine area, said: “Traders operating within their boundaries was never an issue with traders going from side to side. It was only ever a problem when they go back on the pavement.

“I have seen pictures in my capacity as ward councillor of things leaning against walls and against doors.

“There is a lack of clarity within the current agreement with traders.”

Councillor Dee Simson with Conservative leader Steve Bell

Licensing manager Jim Whitelegg said that the council had no issues with traders spreading into vacant pitches “as long as they are empty”.

He said:  “The aim of the rule change is to make sure they stick to the market sites, off the pavements, away from doorways and out of the middle of the road.

“We do not have a problem with traders using vacant pitches.”

The committee voted unanimously to back Councillor Simson’s proposal to amend the market rules allowing Upper Gardner Street traders to keep within marked spaces but allow expansion sideways.

Stallholders will also be required to provide litter bins and clear their rubbish at the end of the day.

Mr Swain said: “After all the work I’ve done in the last year, this is like having a baby.

“I’ve sat waiting for a decision and done everything I can to present a fair case and it’s been accepted.

“Common sense has ruled.”

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