Traders 'furious' over having to pay for seats outside stalls
PUBLISHED: 09:02 08 December 2012
»Traders at Broadway Market are being forced to pay for the tables and chairs they provide for the public or risk being fined.
The ultimatum was served by Hackney Council despite the fact that the outdoor furniture has been a market staple for the past five years.
Last Saturday, after weeks of negotiations following the announcement in October fell through, one of the two traders affected had to pay to have his tables and chairs outside, while the other removed them.
Robert Atthill, owner of Vietnamese coffee shop Ca Phe VN in Broadway Market, London Fields, paid £30 to retain use of his table and chairs.
He said: “I think the issue is that Broadway Market Traders’ and Residents’ Association (BMTRA) has never provided seating. There’s no seating for customers so we have been allowing people to use our seating.
“It improves the atmosphere in the market and provides a service for people, particularly for those who are disabled or have young children. Otherwise they would have to go into a shop and pay. I’m not happy about it. In the winter, we don’t make much money so it adds to my overheads.
“I now have to make sure that people who don’t buy my food don’t sit on the seats. That lends itself to an unpleasant atmosphere. This is very different from the current relaxed and laid-back atmosphere.”
Stephane Cusset, who owns L’eau a la Bouche in Broadway Market and runs La Bouche cheese stall on Saturday, has had tables and chairs outside his deli for nearly four years. He made the decision to not put them outside.
He said: “I am waiting for the BMTRA and the council to come to a fair agreement.”
Andrew Veitch, executive director of Broadway Markets projects, the operational arm of BMTRA, said: “We are furious and sad. A few weeks ago Mary Portas was being filmed here speaking about us as an example of a thriving market.
“It’s absolutely essential for a public, vibrant market to have tables and chairs for public use. They are placed where people might rest, talk and catch up,” he added.
London Assembly Member Andrew Boff, of Hackney, said: “When you look at this and other actions taken by Hackney Council, you can only come to the conclusion that they are trying to destroy Broadway Market.”
A council spokesman said: “Placing of seating for patrons on the public highway is a licensable activity which provides a trade benefit to stall holders and as such a charge is made.”
“It is the stall holders’ discretion if they allow others to use the facilities.
“The council has powers to issue fines to those who obstruct the public highway in this manner and, as a last resort, can remove obstructions.”