Surrey Street stall-holders banned from Sunday trading plan

Surrey Street’s long-suffering and loyal traders are to be banned by Croydon Council from the opportunity of selling their wares when regular Sunday trading is introduced to the market for the first time in its 750-year history in September.

Surrey Street: Existing traders are not welcomed on Sundays

The council announced in March that it is to spend £500,000 of public money to try to boost the ailing street market, where stall occupancy is down below 75 per cent.

And today the council revealed its Baldrick-like cunning plan: Sunday opening, but excluding most of the existing stall-holders, many of whom have worked their pitches for decades, some of whom have run their family stalls for generations.

“Is this some kind of a sick joke?” one stall-holder told Inside Croydon today when we broke the news to them.

“We’re here, day-in, day-out through all weathers, drawing in the customers, and the council ignores us. They focus on the big boys, like Westfield and Boxpark. And then when they decide to spend some money on promoting the market, we’re not allowed to benefit. It might be funny if it wasn’t so cruel.”

The council released the news this afternoon.

“Traders and entertainers are invited to apply for pitches and slots in a new regular Sunday market which will start this September in Surrey Street,” the council stated. The price of a one-day pitch licence: £15.

“The council is extending market trading to seven days a week as part of its plans to improve the area and increase the number of customers using the street.

“Hundreds of thousands of pounds are set to be invested by the local authority before Christmas on making the street safer and more attractive and giving it a more flexible layout.”

And, almost as an after-thought, it added: “To avoid competing with the regular Monday-to-Saturday market no fruit or vegetable traders will be approved.”

Another stall-holder approached by Inside Croydon expressed their frustration, and anger. “Some of us have wanted the chance to trade on a Sunday for years. But the council was having none of it. ‘Not the tradition,’ we were told. ‘Think of the residents,’ they said.

“It’s commonsense that Sundays could be one of the best days for business of the week – working people have more time to shop then. It would certainly be better for us than Mondays or Tuesdays. And our council has now decided that we’re to be denied the chance to trade on Sundays because they want to stage some kind of festival for the Yuppies and so-called ‘artisans’ flogging their over-priced tat.

“They’re squeezing us out of our business. There’s been a lot of stall-holders who have been leaving or considering leaving Surrey Street the last couple of years. This could prove to be the final straw for some.”

Four years ago, Surrey Street was supposed to have received £100,000 from the Portas Pilot, a scheme backed by the TV personality, Mary Portas, intended to revive traditional markets. The consensus of the market traders was that they never saw any benefit or change as a result of that scheme. There are fewer stalls trading on Surrey Street today than there was in 2011, before the Portas “investment” took place.

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Mark Watson: Doesn’t want fruit and veg traders, just their reputation

The council has recently provided a £3 million loan to lure Boxpark to set up business next to East Croydon Station, which traders in Surrey Street and the town centre’s existing bars and restaurants see as being in direct commercial opposition to their own businesses.

With planned Sunday opening of Surrey Street in September, the new venture may have a couple of weeks to establish before Boozepark’s “grand” opening, which is now being forecast for the end of that month – at least 12 weeks behind schedule.

Mark Watson, the senior Labour councillor behind the Surrey Street scheme, has admitted that the Sunday opening idea is to allow newcomers to trade on the “reputation” for good value and excellence established by the market’s long-term stall-holders.

“Central Croydon is incredibly busy every Sunday and we want small, independent traders to be able to capitalise on this by being able to make use of Surrey Street’s reputation as a long-standing and successful market,” Watson said.

“By bringing in a new mix of products we will help the market cater for a far wider range of tastes.”

Or hasten the demise of the existing businesses.


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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9 Responses to Surrey Street stall-holders banned from Sunday trading plan

  1. Could the existing stallholders be offered a pitch with spare pitches let on a casual one day basis

    • You’d think that would be the obvious thing to do.

      To exclude the fruit and veg stall-holders seems designed to disadvantage the very people who need help. Again.

  2. Crazy, crazy,crazy and, when not crazy, stupid! There are thousands of people whose working time makes it impossible for them to get to the market during the working week. Opening the market to all traders, whether established or not, would offer these folk the opportunity to shop from individuals rather than to have to go to the big supermarkets. Excluding those who have given the market its individual character is just stupid. It will simply become a free for all for opportunists and cheapo merchants and in no way will replicate the bustle, feel and character of a real street market. It would be better to open the pedestrianised desert that is the centre of Croydon to this sort of trader and to allow the regular market to open with its usual traders at the same time. But, stabbing your friends in the back is the current fashion in politics so I don’t suppose the Council can be accused of doing anything that is not highly contemporary…and contemptible.

  3. I do have sympathy for those long standing traders in Surrey Street. However most stalls these days, (fruit & veg or otherwise) look to be occupied by new traders. Indeed Id say that only a handful -literally- are long term.
    This is not to say any of them shouldn’t be offered a Sunday place, but you have to let the Council try something new. Its easy to criticise, but it may just be that this is a successful idea. If it is a success then who can complain?!

  4. Lewis White says:

    Years ago, Surrey Street was packed with fruit and veg stalls, from the high class at the ends, to the ultra ripe get-rid-of-it quick and cheap (but it’s luvverly today) stalls.
    It was also packed with people buying the produce.

    Since them changing fashions, less time for weekday shopping, and the rise of the supermarket have reduced footfall, but maybe it is now picking up again.

    To stop people selling fruit and veg will mean that people who want to buy, but can’t get to the market during the week, can’t buy!

    Hardly logical decison-making here, from the Council. Bonkers, and really sad. and unfair to the traders and potential Sunday customers.

    Surrey Street’s fresh fruit and veg offer has always offered healthy eating on a small budget.
    Do the council really want to stop parents from buying their kids fresh fruit and veg, that is not wrapped in eco-irresponsbile polythene?

    Come on Croydon, show some initiative and let those fresh veg stalls back in on Sundays!

  5. veeanne2015 says:

    In 2011, the Mid Croydon Masterplan Consultation (few residents knew of its existence), under the last Council administration, planned to not only build flats across the middle of Queen’s Gardens but also to remove all north-bound buses from the High Street and west end of Katharine Street, re-routing them permanently up the flyover side road and along Fell Road.
    This removal of nearby bus stops would have seriously affected the viability of both Surrey Street market and the High Road shops.

    Now the ‘new plans’ for St. George’s Walk AGAIN include proposals to move the bus stops to Fell Road to allow for a ‘new public square’, AGAIN to the detriment of Surrey Street market and High Street shops.

    Council planning officers were quoted in the Advertiser as saying ‘a new public square and better public access to the area were supported in principle.’
    The developer stated that they were having ‘on-going constructive discussions with the council to see how we can best deliver benefits including a new civic square outside the Town Hall …..’

    BETTER PUBLIC ACCESS ? Not for all those people coming by bus who want the market, the Post Office and all the shops in that area !
    BENEFIT ? Not for those carrying heavy shopping who use the bus stops in the High Street or Katharine Street to go home ! Not for those who change buses conveniently in Katharine Street !
    Not for the market traders and shops !
    But then when have Councils and developers considered ordinary people ?

  6. Lewis White says:

    Good points made by Veeanne, particularly on the need for bus stops very close to the market.
    Many a time I have struggled back to the bus stops by the flyover, laden with veg and bargain basement peaches and hands of bananas for 50p. I could not have lugged my booty any further.

    Many towns would be really clear about the need to keep buses running through the High Street.

    The lifeblood of markets and small shops is easy bus access–look at the now thriving Rye Lane Peckham, and West Croydon’s London Road, which are fed by numerous bus routes. Lewisham market too.

    To cut off Surrey Street from bus stops would be folly, and blind to the commercial benefit arriving in the shape of today’s growing population of bus users.

    Having looked at pedestrianised areas over many years, I have come to the conclusion that those that allow buses to go through have a certain life and bustle. Totally pedestrianised environments outside of central London, like Sutton High Street and North End Croydon seem lacking in something–sound, movement, and enough people. They are pretty dead, too much of the day.

    Towns need vitality– and a certain amount of bus traffic does just this. Jugglers and balloon sellers aren’t enough. Footfall is all. Buses bring in the customers- so keep buses in the High Street and Katharine Street.

    Thanks Veeanne for mentioning this key point. If everyone writes to their councillors about this, it will be of great help.

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