‘Positive’ meeting as traders and council debate market move controversy

Leighton Buzzard Market Supporters (LBMS) with their petition calling for the town council to rethink plans to put all stalls on one side of the High Street
Leighton Buzzard Market Supporters (LBMS) with their petition calling for the town council to rethink plans to put all stalls on one side of the High Street
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Campaigners opposing a decision to place all Leighton Buzzard’s market stalls on one side of the High Street say they have held “positive” talks with the town council.

Leighton Buzzard Market Traders (LBMT) campaign group presented a 2,045-signature petition to the council last Tuesday when they met at the Pantry cafe in the town centre.

The new market layout, which is lined up for mid-August, would see all stalls based on the north side of the High Street.

However long-established market traders have been threatening to quit, while others fear for their future livelihoods over the changes.

LBMT spokesman David Overton said the meeting had been “positive”, with a follow-up gathering due to take place tomorrow (Tuesday).

He said: “We all wish the best for the market and we hope that the further deliberations by the council following our comments to date, and on Tuesday, will result in an updated council offering to traders to help deliver a workable, refreshed market together.”

Leader of the council, Cllr Ewan Wallace, town clerk Mark Saccoccio, and chairman of the market sub-committee, Cllr Mark Freeman, plus several other councillors met with the campaigners.

Cllr Wallace said: “It was a very constructive meeting and it was good to hear directly from many traders.

“My councillor colleagues and I were pleased to have the opportunity to dispel some myths that had grown up such as the compulsory use of gazebos.

“As they say ‘it’s good to talk’ and at the end of the day talking things through face to face in good faith is always the best way resolve issues.

“I think most who attended found that there wasn’t much between us after a few misunderstandings had been resolved. Sometimes the bureaucratic process of local government fails to provide clarity and proper engagement.

“I was particularly pleased to receive the petition which clearly demonstrated to me the passion of local people for the market.

“This shows we have a strong bedrock on which to build on what is best and deliver a thriving market into the future.

“We hope to meet again early next week to resolve the remaining issues.

“Afterwards, what is needed is a genuine partnership between traders, council officers and councillors to ensure so we get the best return on the Town Council’s significant new investment to ensure the market continues to be a valuable asset to our town.”

Cllr Wallace added: “We are coming back to the traders on all issues. This includes the layout and yes there is flexibility within the current plan.”