Ludlow Town Council again refuses to increase the number of stalls on Ludlow Market

Ludlow Town Council again refuses to increase the number of stalls on Ludlow Market

“I personally think that’s a great disappointment councillors. I think we’ve missed an opportunity. Never mind. That is democracy.”

Those were the words of Ludlow’s mayor Tim Gill at the end of a short debate on Monday night on increasing the number of market stalls from 30 to 35. The market manager had made a clear case for five extra stalls to bring new traders in, to increase the variety of traders and provide flexibility in allocating stalls. Mayor Gill spoke in favour but was countered by the hawkish Glen Ginger who proposed no change.

The debate was short. There were only nine councillors present and only councillors Gill, Ginger, Parry and Sheward spoke. Councillor Ginger’s motion was passed after some confusion by five votes to four.

Councillor Ginger opposed the expansion of the market at the last council meeting because not all traders were wearing face masks. On Monday, he argued that there had been a spike in Covid-19 cases and we needed to know the implications of that before opening the market further.

I do not know what it would take to satisfy Councillor Ginger. I think a reduced market, even a smaller market than now, is going to be the norm until the end of Covid-19. A reduced market will continue while some current town councillors have such a negative attitude to helping Ludlow’s retail economy thrive.

I don’t accept Councillor Ginger’s reasoning. The extra five stalls would have allowed greater flexibility in arranging market pitches. New traders could be given the opportunity to join the market. There was never any expectation that extra stalls would attract more people to Ludlow. Or that the layout would lead to reduction in social distancing.

There was an expectation that with five additional stalls we would provide a better, more sustainable market. That with the richer trader offer, more people from Ludlow would shop in the town centre rather than leaving town.

Monday night’s vote was bad for Ludlow Market. Bad for shoppers and bad for Ludlow’s economy.

It was also a bad vote. The debate at council was shallow, with only four of fifteen councillors speaking. But then, six out of fifteen councillors did not turn out for the meeting. I can’t even tell you who voted for Councillor Ginger’s motion. I lost track during the voting procedure and could not see all councillors on my screen. This is a situation where votes should have been recorded. People have a right to know how their representatives have voted on all motions, let alone controversial motions.

I hope the council moves to a recorded vote for all substantive motions from now on.

Transcript of the debate

Market Manager, Tony Caton briefed the meeting on the need to increase capacity at the market by five stalls. He said the five stalls would earn an extra £6,000 for Ludlow Town Council over the next quarter. He continued:

“It’s about the mix of the market. The variety on the market. I’ve got two new traders who want to start on Friday. So, there is very healthy demands from new traders, two of which live in Ludlow, which is great because it’s about the local people. Supporting the local people. They want to come to the market and just start trading and running a business.”

Mayor Tim Gill:

“I have to say from the time last time, when I was very disappointed by what I’ve been seeing, there’s really been a vast improvement. And I personally feel no difficulty in seeing it increased from 30 to 35. I think the market is working well. Even in busier times, it appears to be working well. So, the reservations I had last time, I certainly do not have now.”

Councillor Ginger:

“Firstly, when councillors make this decision, the decision to close the market was never a revenue decision. It was a health issue, it was for COVID… It can only be opened if considered safe. Revenue is immaterial and should not be considered by these councillors. And I will distance myself now on record that any decision that I will make is due to an increase in revenue to Ludlow Town Council.

“If it wasn’t safe to open with more than 30 it’s not safe now. You’ve got 3,000 extra cases yesterday. You’ve got spikes everywhere. It’s not the time to overpopulate the market yet. I don’t mind whether you bring it back again. But my vote will be against this for health reasons. For COVID reasons. It’s not the time.”

Councillor Parry:

“Well, I’m not against this. I’m for it. Getting the extra stalls. But I agree with Councillor Ginger. It was not to do with money. It’s to do with the way that they behaved. And not using the masks and everything. Can I just say I feel there are one or two of them that do not want to wear their masks. I think everybody knows who they are. And if they carry on – have they had the press release about shoppers wanting to see people with mask on? That is something that I think they should all have. And I’m sorry, the ones that don’t wear their masks should be told you will not come on again next week.”

Councillor Sheward:

“Can I just say that shouldn’t we apply this to mask wearing for the public? Because the public goes through. Many of them don’t wear masks. And I think with a growing concentration of people moving and the stalls coming close together, so we’ll get people closer together. We’ve got to think about the fact that social distancing is being reduced, so we need to put in compensation by asking people to go into the area with masks on whether they’re customer or market stallholder.”

Tony Caton:

“Thank you, Councillor Parry for mentioning the comments about customers and visitors going to various places being more comfortable and safer in the current environment with a Covid-state market and wearing masks. There are one or two traders who have been quite vocal against this mask wearing. I have forwarded the email or given them a copy last Saturday. And both of them now accept that you have to wear a face covering. And that’s the end of the matter. If they don’t have masks on them, they won’t trade.”

Councillor Parry:

“Thank you very much. That’s what I want.”

Mayor Gill:

“I’m moving the recommendation that we increase the use of the market stalls from 30 to 350. Councillor Cobley is seconding that.”

Councillor Ginger.

“Counter proposal is that we remain at the 30 and revisit when we know the health situation.”

Councillor Adams seconds this counter motion.

Mayor Gill:

“That is three people, four people for the proposal. Those against please show. That is one, two three. Councillor Smithers what are you doing?”

Councillor Smithers:

“I voted the first time round?”

Council Ginger:

“The first vote was five.”

Mayor Gill:

“Against that proposal. That is three.”

Town Clerk:

“We need to get to nine [councillors]. So, is it for against?

Mayor Gill:

“Let’s take it again. Those in favour of Counsellor Ginger’s proposal please show. That is Counsellor Smithers, two, three, four. I still count four.”

Town Clerk:

“I still count five. Councillor Naismith.”

“Mayor Gill:

“Okay. One, two, three, four five. Those against. That is one, two, three, four.

“I personally think that’s a great disappointment councillors. I think we’ve missed an opportunity. Never mind. That is democracy.”

3 thoughts on “Ludlow Town Council again refuses to increase the number of stalls on Ludlow Market

  1. I can see arguments on both sides. I would personally have voted for the 5 extra stalls, but as long as the position is kept under regular review, then fair enough.

    There is no government requirement for masks to be worn outdoors by any pedestrians, so I would strongly disagree with any such imposition. Many staff even indoors in other shops do not wear masks, so again I would not have made this mandatory for traders either, but presumably the council has the right to impose whatever it wants on traders. But not on customers, as I can’t see under which law anybody could be forced to wear one and by whom. We need a sense of proportion here.

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