Flushed with the success of last week’s Pridefest, Croydon Council launches its Sunday market in Surrey Street this weekend, where “£8 a loaf” artisan bread seems likely to replace the regular market stall-holders’ cries of “Pound a bowl!”
“As part of a £500,000 package of improvements the council has opened the street to seven-day trading, meaning that Sunday shoppers can now browse stalls as part of their visit to the town centre,” the council announced this week.
“The first Sunday market day is set to feature a wide range of street food, as well as a much- anticipated artisan baker and a variety of clothing and hand-made gifts.”
Croydon Council has deliberately excluded existing stall-holders from applying to be part of the Sunday trading scheme, to the frustration of several long-standing Surrey Street figures.
Mark Watson, the Labour council’s cabinet member responsible for the scheme, claims that Sunday trading was one of the ideas to help revive the market’s fortunes put forward by traders at a hurriedly arranged consultation meeting earlier this year – so to exclude those same traders from the Sunday market appears at best perverse.
Watson is part of council leader Tony Newman’s close clique who control the Town Hall. “Surrey Street is a bustling market six days a week, and we know from speaking to local people that there’s a real demand for it to open week-round,” Watson said this week, still unable to provide any evidence for his assertion. “We’ve had a huge amount of interest from new traders, and over the next few months we expect to see Surrey Street being the place to be on Sundays.”
The number of traders and customers present this Sunday, and then in one month or six weeks’ time, will demonstrate the true demand for what some see as Watson’s gentrifying agenda.
The Sunday market will also have to overcome the reservations of residents who live on or near Surrey Street and Church Street, some who had to endure having Port-a-Loos installed outside their homes over the Bank Holiday weekend for Pridefest. Others are concerned about the noise and disruption to their lives which the planned amplified music might cause.
They also question how the council’s already stretched market inspection and licensing staff will cope with an additional day’s trading each week. One senior member of the street market staff is leaving their council job this week.
“The cleaning contractors can’t keep the market clean or free of fly-tipping as it is,” one stall holder told Inside Croydon. “Unless there’s someone monitoring their work, who’s going to make sure the place is cleaned after trading every Sunday evening?”
There have also been reports of unlicensed food vendors operating on and around the market, with council officials failing to take any enforcement action.
“But hey, who cares if people are poisoned as long as I can buy a cup cake on a Sunday?” was the world-weary reaction of one Surrey Street regular affected by the changes.
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