Poll: Should political parties be banned from having stalls on market days in Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill?

Bury town centre on market day. Bury town centre on market day.

Jon Vale West Suffolk reporter jon.vale@archant.co.uk
Friday, August 8, 2014
10:01 AM

A move to potentially ban political parties from west Suffolk’s markets has prompted accusations of politicking against local Conservatives.

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Political and pressure groups could be banned from having stalls on market days in Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill under proposals from St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

The move would affect political parties as well as groups such as the Fawcett Society if they are approved by the council’s cabinet next month.

Alaric Pugh, St Edmundsbury’s cabinet member for economic growth, said the proposals had been devised between councillors and traders and that “there is a view that our markets should be reserved as a concourse for buyers and sellers”.

However, UK Independence Party (UKIP) borough councillor Tony Brown said the move was a response to UKIP holding recent stalls in Bury, with both Labour and UKIP having long-standing stalls on Haverhill market.

“We think that’s an attack on free speech,” said Mr Brown.

“I see it as a Conservative council reinforcing their position by not letting any opposition put up stalls. They weren’t worried about it until UKIP put a stall up in Bury.

“The Government want to engage the public more in politics and St Edmundsbury seem to be moving away from openness.”

The proposals are in their early stages and will be discussed by the council’s cabinet next month.

Mr Pugh said: “We have been working with market traders on updating the borough’s market regulations, and having discussed the issue informally with elected members and market traders, there is a view that our markets should be reserved as a concourse for buyers and sellers and not be used as a place for promoting political views or causes.”

Mr Pugh added there would be allowance for political parties to campaign around the town centre on non-market days and elsewhere in the town.

Labour’s Maureen Byrne said she was “totally opposed, extremely cross and angry about it”.

She added: “This again is the Tory majority trying to cut other people’s legs off. They need to be extremely careful about what they decide.”

3 comments

  • Bury St Edmunds boasts an important part in the birth of democracy. It is ironic that the Conservative group in the Borough Council wants to damage it.. Let's be clear about this: the move to ban other political parties from getting their message out is because the Cabinet is afraid that people are listening to that message. Here's some advice for them. Stop over-riding the democratic decisions of the parishes and towns. Start putting home-owners and residents first, not developers. That's democracy. Do that and we won't have to stand in the rain on the marketplace, won't have to freeze in the lazy East Anglian wind just to meet people who are desperate to talk to someone who will listen. JF UKIP Ccllr, Haverhill

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    Julian Flood

    Monday, August 11, 2014

  • This also happened in Sudbury in the run up to the EU elections in May. UKIP put in a perfectly reasonable request for a stall on Sudbury's Charter market and were initially accepted. However, they were then told that Sudbury council had decided to ban them and the other parties until the election was over. What is it that the Conservatives are so afraid of UKIP revealing if they get a fair chance to meet the electorate?

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    Steven Whalley

    Friday, August 8, 2014

  • This is a public space where the public should be able to engage in any lawful activity. Tells you quite a lot about the Tory mentality: they're all for freedom and liberty as long it is on their terms.

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    Origami Penguin

    Friday, August 8, 2014

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