Lord breaks silence in market row
THE Lord accused of abusing his ancient powers to close down an Essex market has hit back, claiming he has only ever wanted to benefit the town.Traders have been told by Lord of the Manor of Thaxted, John Perry, that owing to a series of disputes over fees and other issues, the Thaxted market was ending.
By Sharon Asplin
THE Lord accused of abusing his ancient powers to close down an Essex market has hit back, claiming he has only ever wanted to benefit the town.
Traders have been told by Lord of the Manor of Thaxted, John Perry, that owing to a series of disputes over fees and other issues, the Thaxted market was ending.
He is considering opening an alternative market this Friday.
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Mr Perry, who claims he has received threatening phone calls, said his right to close the market is enshrined by his title which he bought more than five years ago.
These rights have been confirmed by Uttlesford District Council but defiant traders have vowed to stand their ground in the ongoing dispute.
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Speaking publicly for the first time, pensioner Mr Perry claimed the row was making him ill and he accused traders of using it as an excuse not to pay rent.
He said: “I was asked to start the Thaxted market 17 years ago, due to the town decline.
“Once I purchased the Lordship I carried on running the market as before and fully intended giving the parish council some form of donation but all I ever got from the council was solicitors' letters, running up high bills for me, leaving me no alternative but not to give anything to the council.”
He explained about six years ago his right to run the market without the Lord's permission was disputed by estate agents.
Worried, he investigated the claim and on hearing the Lordship was for sale bought it himself to regularise the situation. The parish council declined to buy it because of the cost to taxpayers.
He said: “All the problems that have been going on have damaged my health, so five weeks ago I asked my neighbour Maggie Cross if she would take over taking the rent for the market until I felt better.”
But he said traders refused to give the money to Maggie Cross unless she proved Mr Perry was entitled to collect it.
“I decided under duress that I would photocopy them [the documents]. When she returned with these documents and gave them to each of the traders, they still refused to pay saying they were forgeries.
“After discussion with my solicitor I decided to give the traders notice to quit.”
Mr Perry said he was keen to resolve the dispute and had offered to provide a bigger and better market. He said he had intended to discuss the issue with the parish council when he returned from holiday.
“Uttlesford Council informed Thaxted Parish Council that they were happy with my rights, but it appears that the town council is still spending public money having documents read in Latin to sort out the issue.
“This situation has taken a toll on my health, through no fault of my own. People in the Thaxted town think it is my fault and all I have ever wanted is to benefit the town.”
Miss Cross said: “I have known Mr Perry for quite a few years and he has always been very honourable. I feel he is being victimised through no fault of his own and the townspeople have only heard one side of the story.”
As revealed in the East Anglian Daily Times, four weeks ago stallholders decided to withhold their payments, angered that the money was not being put into the community.
The rift deepened when Mr Perry warned traders they could face a legal injunction if they did not leave.
The traders say they are not convinced by Mr Perry's claims but are not refusing to pay, just withholding rents until they receive the proof they have asked for.
Last week, Richard Groom, who runs the fruit and vegetable stall, vowed traders would ignore Mr Perry's threats and he said he was determined to stand his ground.
John Freeman, chairman of Thaxted Parish Council, said the parish council had not seen all Mr Perry's documents giving conclusive proof of his rights.
“He might have proof but we need that proof for our records,” he said. “What we have seen, we feel, is not conclusive but he has declined to show us anything else.
“We are still looking into how much it will cost us to sort this out but something must be done as the whole situation is in disarray.”
He confirmed he had told the traders the council could not receive any money instead during the dispute.