Market traders in Bedfordshire village ask council to reconsider ban over Covid-19 regulations

Petition has already attracted more than 1,160 signatures

Friday, 23rd October 2020, 4:37 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd October 2020, 4:39 pm

Organisers of the 800-year-old Woburn Market have started a petition to lift a ban after Central Bedfordshire said it couldn't go ahead.

The petition has already attracted 1,160 signatures, claiming "bureaucracy has prevented Woburn Market from running this month, and this wonderful community asset could be lost forever".

But the council has revealed it is confident an agreement will be made and that the ban had to be put in place as the proposed Covid measures were not good enough.

Woburn Market

The market organisers claim: "Despite sending a full risk assessment showing substantive efforts to run in a Covid -secure manner, the council insists on holding an outdoor market to a higher standard than Tesco, by insisting on a one-way system and flow control, which are not being asked of the indoor supermarkets and are unfeasible due to the location of our historic market, as like so many markets, it has multiple points of entry."

Stefan Botfield, of Woburn Traders Association, said: "We think it's unfair. We have people that rely on us. The council wants us to cordon off the market and implement flow control. We can't close the roads. We couldn't do what they wanted us to do."

He added: "You walk into Tesco and there is no one-way system. They have got around it by getting everyone to wear face masks and not challenging anyone when they don't."

A Central Bedfordshire Council spokesperson said: “Events must be run ‘Covid-secure’ and part of this process is for organisers to prepare and submit a comprehensive risk assessment. On this occasion we decided the proposed measures were not sufficient to ensure public safety.

"However we are in touch with the organiser of the Woburn Market and are confident that we can come to swift agreement as we have with other markets in the area.

"The safety of our residents during the pandemic is our first priority. We treat all applications for events strictly on their individual merits."

But Mr Botfield added: "We have yet to see the fruit of this comment. If we do not resolve this next week, we are facing the prospect of having to cancel another one.

"You might not live in the area, but I guarantee your market will be next."