SHOPKEEPERS in Stratford town centre are fed up with street markets negatively affecting their trade.
LSD Promotions – which organises markets in the town – has submitted an application to the licensing team at Stratford District Council (SDC) to hold a winter market on Waterside on ten Sundays between January and March 2023.
Waterside Winter Upmarket – as it is officially called – would feature between 50 and 75 traders, and was held in the town for the first time last year.
But Alison Halford, who runs dog boutique Sniff and Bark in Chapel Street, says she represents a large number of fellow shopkeepers who strongly object to this market – and in fact any other sort of market – taking place along Waterside.
She claims the market adversely affects the number of customers that visit the shops locally, calls it ‘unsightly’ and of environmental concern.
And as a result of 34 shopkeepers formally lodging their objection to the market with SDC, the decision whether to grant the application has been referred to the Licensing Panel who will meet on Wednesday (October 26).
Shopkeeper Ms Halford has submitted a number of documents and photographs in support of her objection.
These include ‘The Stratford Benchmarking Report by People and Places Insight’ which states 61 per cent of businesses within the Stratford Bid member area believe markets have a negative impact on trading in the town. This is against a national average of just five per cent. Ms Halford says the same report shows footfall is lower in Henley Street on market days – contrary to claims the market brings in footfall.
A Stratford Bid survey in March/April 2021 shows support for the Friday and Saturday markets on Rother Street but not for markets on Waterside.
Ms Halford continues that Waterside is unsuitable for a market at any time of the year.
“It is unsightly and detracts from the free open space, natural views of the canal and riverside, the Bancroft Gardens and the
world-famous RSC. Visitors get this first view when coming over Bridgefoot towards Bancroft Gardens.”
She said there were also environmental concerns due to chemical cleaners, used by stall holders, running into the canal used by swans, ducks and other wildlife.
She added: “We feel it is of concern that despite Stratford District Council and Stratford BID both having access to, and being aware of, The Stratford Benchmarking Report by People and Places Insight and The Survey by Stratford BID of March/April 2021, that markets have been allowed to grow in size, frequency and variety of locations, and are openly promoted by both organisations, despite evidence in their possession of the negative impact on levy of paying BID members and the town.”
Other businesses that have put their name to the objection include the Dirty Duck, The Garrick Inn, The Vintner Restaurant, Lambs Restaurant, Havilands Tea Room, The Opposition Restaurant, Montpellier, Canal River Tours and Shiptons Jewellers.
LSD Promotions has written to SDC in response to the shopkeepers’ objections.
The letter states LSD Promotions introduced the winter markets in 2022 to encourage footfall back into the town centre to support businesses through the “difficult” winter months, especially after the pandemic – and claimed footfall did increase.
It added that 34 objectors was not enough to support Ms Halford’s statement that the market had a negative impact on Stratford BID members when there were a total of 450 members in the town.