Watson and mystery of market plans for £1m of public dough

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.

Artisan bread: the council's gentrifying agenda is all about dough

Artisan bread: the council’s gentrifying agenda is all about dough

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.

Mark Watson: has excluded long-standing traders from Sunday Market

Mark Watson: spending £1m of public dough on Surrey Street

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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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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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2 Responses to Watson and mystery of market plans for £1m of public dough

  1. By using the word “gentrifying” you imply that you are against this. I would say gentrifying Croydon would make it a far nice place to live and work.
    It seems this sites authors hate anything in Croydon that would spell improvements. It is obsessed with anything that might make the place a nicer place to be. Westfield, Box Park, Yuppies (and their doors) and now gentrifying. It seems to me you would be happy for Croydon to rot in its 60’s relic, than , god forbid , encouraging a better class of people and investment in to the area.

    • Wrong and wrong again.

      What you infer – we imply nothing – is a matter for you and your sadly addled mind.

      Nor are we opposed to development, per se.

      But please advise us how Westfield’s “arrival” in Croydon in 2012 has done anything to improve the town centre.

      Please advise how spunking away £3.5m of council money on a single business is in any way equitable for other businesses or appropriate for a local authority – especially if that favoured business fails to adhere to key policies advocated by the council.

      And please advise what you mean by “better class of people”.

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