Croydon Council today abandoned any pretence that it does not have a gentrifying agenda for the regeneration of the borough when it issued an advertisement, dressed up as a press release, on behalf of … an artisan baker.The council’s press office, which often struggles to provide news and information to promote genuine council-funded services, somehow managed to find the time and staff to draft a 500-word piece of gushing publicity for “Julian’s Artisan Bakery”, a business which has been trading on Surrey Street market on Sundays for just three months.
Julian (he doesn’t have a surname, according to the council’s press office, but he does sell croissants for £1 a time) is apparently signal of the success of Surrey Street’s Sunday market, which is the brainchild of Mark Watson, a member of the Progress clique which controls the Labour group at the Town Hall.
“Sunday in Surrey Street has become a social hub of good street food, music, and handmade crafts, and people are buzzing about it,” gushed Watson according to today’s press release from the council, paid for by Council Tax-payers.
Yet yesterday’s “buzzing” “social hub” Sunday market in Surrey Street comprised the grand total of: three stalls.
It seems doubtful whether Watson has visited the poorly received Sunday market, which is part of his £1million scheme for reviving Croydon’s ancient street market.
Today’s press release from the council failed to mention any details of this week’s supposed “consultation” meeting for market traders and residents living near Surrey Street to discuss Watson’s grand plans for how he intends to spend the public money. Anyone might be excused for thinking that Watson and the council actually don’t want people to turn up in case they ask any awkward questions. The meeting takes place this Thursday.
And the premise for issuing today’s press release? The favoured baker (goodness knows what Coghlan’s and other long-established bakers in the borough will think of this preferential treatment from the council) has decided that he will flog his loaves in Surrey Street on Wednesdays and Saturdays, too. And of course, the people of Croydon will be truly grateful.
This is an interesting development, since the stall-holders who trade on Surrey Street from Monday to Saturday were blocked by Watson from taking up pitches in the Sunday market. But then, for Watson, even some of the shops on Surrey Street, such as Iceland, are not quite right for his gentrifying agenda.According to sources on Surrey Street, the Sunday market has been such a flop that there has been some thought about abandoning it, at least until after resurfacing work is completed in the spring. Certainly, and despite Watson’s claims, there won’t be any more amplified music for the foreseeable future.
The Sunday market has never had more than two dozen stalls since it began in September, and footfall of customers to the poorly promoted and badly sign-posted market has disappointed those traders who have paid their 15 quid to be part of the market.
In the post-truth, other-worldly world of Mark Watson and the Croydon Council press office, this is related today thus: “The Sunday market, which had been going to take a break during the quiet months of January and February, will keep going following to calls from traders and customers alike.” They fail to state who these traders and customers might be. But if yesterday’s Sunday market is anything to judge by, then they are persevering with the failing Sunday market for the benefit of three stall-holders.
“Business will continue as normal alongside the council’s £1million refurbishment of the street, which is due to be finished before Easter,” the council’s advert for Julian the Artisan Baker continues, though it fails to state how the £1million of public dough is to be spent.
Maybe Watson is planning to have them bake a very large cake to celebrate his “buzzing” success?
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