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'Save our market' petition gathers pace as row continues in Downham Market




Nearly 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for a vote of no confidence in a town council as part of an ongoing market row .

Downham traders have been critical of the town council's handling of the market with criticisms including excessive coronavirus safety measures.

A 'Save our market' group has been set up on Facebook, which has 1,500 members and a description stating: "Let’s try and save our 900 year-old market."

Market petition ready to be presented at Downham Market on Saturday morning Pictured with the petition in hand are Justin Lewis (left) and Mike Howard (right), along with other market supporters and residents. Picture: Paul Marsh
Market petition ready to be presented at Downham Market on Saturday morning Pictured with the petition in hand are Justin Lewis (left) and Mike Howard (right), along with other market supporters and residents. Picture: Paul Marsh

And the petition is calling for a vote of no confidence in the town council with some traders believing the authority is dissuading people from visiting.

One trader's wife, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "I am absolutely fed up with hearing them [town councillors] saying we are threatening them when all we are doing is trying to keep the market going.

"There have been a lot of signatures for the petition, which in place like this in what is just a little town, shows how badly they want these councillors out.

Market day at Downham Market on Saturday, September 26, 2020. Picture: Paul Marsh
Market day at Downham Market on Saturday, September 26, 2020. Picture: Paul Marsh

"I can't get to sleep at night over this. It's the first thing I think about when I go to bed and also the first thing in the morning. Everyone is the same."

She bemoaned the fact there were only five stalls on Friday when the market has had up to 18 stalls in the past. However, she acknowledged the weather may have played a part in this.

Traders want the petition to be received by the borough council, and would like to see it go to parliament. If a petition gets 10,000 signatures, the government will respond.

Mike Howard , who runs the Rain Wizard Catering stall, was among those who displayed the petition on Saturday ready for it to be presented to the borough council.

He previously said traders felt like their livelihoods were at stake and bemoaned the fact the council "are putting obstacles in the way".

A spokeswoman for the town council said: "We recognise that petitions are a valuable way for people to raise their concerns and following receipt we will respond to the organisers as appropriate."

Seven town councillors teamed up last week to release another statement defending the town council.

The statement said the new licence, agreed in a full council meeting last month, is much fairer to the traders as it reduces the risk of incurring a £500 fine.

It also said there was "no clear purpose" in the Market Strategy Group holding another public meeting at this stage as meetings have been held with traders "on many previous occasions".

Signed by councillors Ben Molyneux-Hetherington, Jacqueline Westrop, Cissy Lightfoot, Jo Woodmin, Willow Woodmin, Alan Pickering and Elizabeth Hendry, the statement also denied that the council had deliberately cut electricity supply to the market one morning.

"We have broad shoulders, so are not 'complaining' as recently discussed on social media," the statement concluded. "Our aim is to simply put out the fact that in life, there are always two sides to every story and we feel it is the right time for ours to be heard.

"We act alone as concerned councillors and supporters of the town."



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