A Leighton Buzzard trader is being driven to despair by cars being left on his market pitch.
Dave Gibbins has arrived two Saturday mornings in a row to set up his card stall only to find much of his selling space taken up by a vehicle left in the town centre overnight.
With the owners nowhere in sight, it leaves him with little choice but to start erecting his stall – and at a certain point there is no escape for the car until the end of market trading.
He said: “It happens quite regularly but it’s now happened two Saturdays in a row. I get to the market at about 6.30am and go to the Swan Hotel and ask if anyone’s left a car.
“I start setting up. It’s not a problem if they come back early enough I can set up around it, but it gets to a point where they can’t get out.
“One week at about 9.30am a guy turned up saying he had to get to work. I had to tell him the stall was wrapped around the car and that he was stuck there.
“The following week I heard it was a lady. She never turned up. As I was serving, two young ladies were laughing. I said ‘do you know whose car this is?’ and they said ‘yes, we do’. The person whose car it was was too embarrassed to come and get it.
“The ironic thing is where the cars tend to park is right by a sign which says there’s no parking from 6am on market days.”
It’s been a consistent problem on the market for a number of years and Dave, who is embroiled in a dispute with the town council over increased pitch rent due to new rules being introduced, is irritated when he loses such a large area of selling space.
“It’s incovenient,” he said. “When it first used to happen it used to wind me up something rotten. I can set up around the cars usually, but if they’ve parked where a leg needs to go I’m stuffed.”
Long-standing trader Karen Young, who runs the flower stall, said she had been “thrown out” of the Swan Hotel before over the issue with car obstructions.
She said: “Nine out of ten times they are people staying in the hotel, I got angry once and they asked me to leave a few years back.
“You just lose your rag. You can’t set up properly and have to arrange your stall to accommodate the car.”
One of the motorists who left his car on Dave’s pitch, posted on the LBO Facebook page to say: “Turned up at 9am and they wouldn’t let me move it so nothing I coulda done really.”
Leighton-Linslade Town Council manages the market. A spokesman pointed out: “When this problem occurs a trader will get a reduced rent. Parking enforcement is not a town council responsibility however, it’s a Central Beds Council matter.”