Traders in Stoke Newington say Hackney Council has rushed into launching a new market with little care for how it will impact shops and cafes.
The market, which opens this Sunday (April 2), will have stalls selling street food, meat, fruit and veg, cheese, coffee and clothing. But Stoke Newington Business Association were only notified of the plans on Tuesday.
They say the Council failed to run a fair tender process and that the stalls chosen will compete with existing businesses on Church Street and the High Street and won’t add anything new to the area.
Heidi Early, Chair of Stoke Newington Business Association, added: “We knew the Council was considering a market for the area at some point but they’d assured us they’d engage with us to come up with a plan that doesn’t threaten local livelihoods and instead we’ve been given just five days’ notice that a market is opening outside the Town Hall. These plans have been devised by the Council behind closed doors and steamrolled through– they’ve offered the stalls to businesses in Broadway and Borough Markets without, it seems, approaching a single Stoke Newington business.”
In a document posted online about the market, the Council states: “The Market has the potential to become a permanent fixture in the local area, providing a much-needed boost to the local economy and community spirit.”
But the market line-up of stallholders includes a food producer based in Wiltshire and another based in Wales.
Heidi added: “Far from boosting the economy, many of the stalls will be competing directly with businesses here. We already have a cheese shop, a butcher’s, the brilliant Growing Communities farmers market and fruit and veg shops, cafes selling amazing coffee and wonderful clothes shops – we’re all for attracting new shoppers to the area and appealing to all budgets but this market offers more of the same.
“The area hosts regular successful makers markets. We welcome well thought out local trade that genuinely boosts the local economy. Not something that just benefits out-of-area traders.
“We’re disappointed to say the least – businesses have had a hard time rebuilding post-pandemic. We pay massive business rates and rents and times are hard. The Council promised to support us and work with us to increase footfall but we feel like this market has been sprung on us.”
A report to the Council's Cabinet meeting on 27th March this year, stated: "[We will] explore with local businesses and residents a new street market for Stoke Newington Church St". But the announcement that a new market would be opening on Sunday came just one day later.
The Council invited traders to attend a Zoom meeting on Friday March 31st but, with the market launching just two days later at Stoke Newington Town Hall, businesses say that consultation didn't feel very sincere.
Heidi added: "The SNBA was involved in very early discussions about a hypothetical market but our last discussion with the Council was in November when no venue had been decided upon and we were reassured we’d be involved in deciding what format the market would take. We hadn’t heard anything since - until Tuesday March 28th when the Council announced a market would be opening on April 2nd and the stallholders had been decided. It all feels very underhand - we feel misled.
“In June 2022 a research survey about markets was carried out for the Council but the SNBA was not notified prior to the research being undertaken and many traders knew nothing about it. It’s disingenuous to say the Council carried out meaningful discussions about the market with us when we had no say over its final location, the type of stalls trading or when it would launch."