Traders angry at plans to move Colchester market

Colchester market stall owners Trevor Lankford, Gavin Tyler, Gary Foy, Jeanette Walter, Shahid Zaman

Colchester market stall owners Trevor Lankford, Gavin Tyler, Gary Foy, Jeanette Walter, Shahid Zaman, Karen Ryan and Andrew Craig are teaming up to fight Colchester Borough Council's plans to move them onto the High Street and are collecting names on petitions. - Credit: Su Anderson

Market traders being forced from their base in central Colchester say it will cost them their livelihood – and be dangerous.

Stallholders in Culver Street West have been given one month’s notice to move two days a week.

Colchester Borough Council (CBC) has ordered the move as it prepares to run a new market on the High Street on Fridays and Saturday – the traders’ best days.

The existing stalls have been offered stands in the new location.

But the owners say higher rent and the loss of passing trade will destroy their businesses.

They are also concerned the close proximity of the stalls to traffic will be dangerous.

Shahid Zaman from Babergh, who has run a clothing stall for about ten years on a rolling monthly contract, said: “The council has had plans to move the market for some time, but through-out the consultation we were not involved and the stance was maintained it was nothing to do with us – we were not being moved.

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“Health and safety is one of my biggest concerns with live traffic moving behind us.

“The council says there is a historic charter whereby no other market shall run, and I don’t dispute that. But it has been disregarded, when the market originally ran in the High Street, and in Vineyard Street, the stalls were here.

“The High Street is a service road, not a major retail hub, its glory days have gone.

“With Culver Square, Lion Walk and the proposed Vineyard Gate development there is a triangle that has been years in the planning. Currently we are in the middle of it, why would we want to move to the graveyard?”

Mr Zaman said the move with increased rents would cost him around £12,000 a year to maintain the same size stall.

He added: “In times of austerity they are generating tens of thousands of pounds in income from us, which is paying for services, which they risk losing.”

His partner Jeanette Walters added: “I can’t sleep at night through worry and stress. I have two small children and a mortgage to pay, but they are trying to destroy my life.”

The traders have collected thousands of signatures of support from shoppers.

Trevor Lankford, who has run a flower stall for eight of its 30 year history, said: “The council is trying to destroy an established business.

“Our customers will think we have left town.

“I am so angry. I am the wrong side of 50, if they take it away from us what am I going to do?

“None of the shops want us to go, they all feed off us too.”

Fishmonger Andrew Craig, from Mersea Island, added: “We just want to be left alone.

“This will not encourage people into the town.”

Gavin Tyler, who runs a fruit and veg stall, said: “CBC is offering reduced rates for the first three months to give us time to ‘argue’ it, but if we move we are never coming back.

“I don’t know how they expect us to survive.

“I am massively concerned about health and safety. It will only take one lapse of concentration for a bus to clip us, or for a child to run into the road.”