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‘Totally irresponsible’: Row erupts as town market reopens

PUBLISHED: 11:22 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:31 01 May 2020

A coronavirus support scheme, being ran out of a Norfolk pub has proved to be a lifeline for residents in Swaffham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A coronavirus support scheme, being ran out of a Norfolk pub has proved to be a lifeline for residents in Swaffham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2015

A council has defended its decision to revive an 800-year-old market for the first time since lockdown, despite criticism from residents.

Swaffham Town Council made the decision to re-open the market after a number of traders and residents got in touch about heading back to the stalls.

The market closed on March 24 after the Prime Minister introduced national lockdown.

In a statement, Swaffham Town Council said: “A small food market will be held in Swaffham Market place this Saturday, May 2.

“A new layout with stalls spaced out on the wide and open market area will be in place. Market customers will be asked to be patient observing a one-way system through the market, queuing at two- metre intervals.

Swaffham Town Council made the decision to re-open the market after a number of traders and residents got in touch with the desire of heading back to the stalls. Picture: Matthew Usher.Swaffham Town Council made the decision to re-open the market after a number of traders and residents got in touch with the desire of heading back to the stalls. Picture: Matthew Usher.

“We hope that residents respect the new way of working and please note that if we feel that guidelines are not being followed we do have the ability to close the market immediately.

“Council staff will be on hand to provide assistance and direct anyone to the appropriate queue.”

The regular food traders, supplying essential items such as fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, bread and cheese, have been invited to bring their stalls and trade from 8am to 1pm.

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The decision has caused some residents to question the reopening, with one commenter saying it was “totally irresponsible”.

Cathy Friend said: “Seems a ridiculous decision and putting people at great risk unnecessarily so. I work for the NHS and this is totally irresponsible.”

In response to criticism, the town council said: “It is understandable to see the reactions to the decision to reopen the market.

“The aim is to safely provide an opportunity for people to purchase food (as all supermarkets are doing).

“We have had numerous enquiries as to why the market has been closed, as some people would feel safer purchasing food outside at a market rather than inside a supermarket.

“We understand that not everyone wants to use the market or believes it should be open.

“We hope that those who do wish to use the market do so on their own, buy the goods they need and return home when they have finished.

“We certainly would not encourage any browsing or socialising.”


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