Canterbury City Council plans to close the twice-weekly market in St George’s Street in order to make way for what it dubs “Environmental Improvements” – a misnomer if ever there was one.
Canterbury Market has been established in its central location for very many years. It is widely recognised by visitors and local people as a vital and vibrant feature of the city’s heritage but for some curious reason, our frequently described “cash-strapped council” has embarked upon costly plans to permanently disband the market by January 2023 in order to create a soulless and wholly unnecessary “boulevard” - the cost of which has already risen from an original £630,000 to a staggering £1m.
City councillor Barbara Flack said of the market area: “Many will agree it is not the first impression we want visitors to have when they arrive in our gorgeous city.” Why on earth not? Markets all over the world are a magnet for visitors and in Kent one only has to look at the popularity of Faversham Market to understand this.
Whitstable has already lost its market and the Sunday boot fair has gone from Wincheap’s Park and Ride area. What exactly does this council have against markets? And why would it possibly consider its White Elephant legacy proposals to be improvements?
The plans are unpopular with residents, as evidenced by the overwhelming support for the market in the first council consultation, and the thousands of signatures that were gathered in petitions (both on paper and online) before the council saw fit to suspend its original consultation and disallow the original comments in the next. So much for local democracy.
The removal of the market will not only destroy traders’ livelihoods, it also risked the destruction of 5 much loved mature trees - until these were effectively saved by the signatures of 5,000 people and the lobbying of Kent County Council (KCC), but people, including the elderly and disabled of our community will be deprived of the chance to obtain market produce at significantly lower cost than in shops and stores.
In March last year, Cllr Flack announced that the first consultation on these unpopular plans was being halted because life had “changed” due to the Covid crisis. Well, due to the economic difficulties many now face due to the current cost-of-living crisis, “life has changed” yet again, and this council would do well to listen to the many residents across this constituency who want and need Canterbury Market to remain.
There is still time for councillors, and the council leader, Ben Mr Fitter-Harding, to see sense about their own myopic administration. We welcome them to do so. On this important issue, they should take time to talk to residents and traders and forget their costly fancy "boulevards" – and allow a much loved and much needed market to flourish.
Please sign and share this petition to show your support.