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Council to shut town’s market as protests planned

PUBLISHED: 14:12 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:45 24 June 2020

Downham's market will reopen again on Friday, July 10 after the council closed it down due to protest claims. Picture: Sarah Hussain

Downham's market will reopen again on Friday, July 10 after the council closed it down due to protest claims. Picture: Sarah Hussain

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A market will be shut down for two weeks after it was revealed protestors were planning to demonstrate against a council’s safety measures.

Downham's market reopened for the first time since lockdown on Friday, June 5. Picture: Adam HardingDownham's market reopened for the first time since lockdown on Friday, June 5. Picture: Adam Harding

Downham Market Town Council has announced it will be closing its market as a result of a planned demonstration on Friday, June 26, after seeking legal advice on public safety.

The council said the protest is against the safety measures that have been put in place, with people calling for the market to “return to pre-Covid times.”

It comes after councillors revealed a member of the public tried to throw social distance barriers and remove markers when the market reopened for the first time since lockdown on Friday, June 5.

The council’s reopening response has come under criticism with traders and the local community questioning its delayed approach, the reduced number of traders and times and they have also been accused of trying to shut down the market for good.

But a town council spokesman restated that the market is “here to stay.”

Downham's market reopened for the first time since lockdown on Friday, June 5. Picture: Adam HardingDownham's market reopened for the first time since lockdown on Friday, June 5. Picture: Adam Harding

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Elaine Oliver, town clerk, said: “We love the market and we want it to flourish and succeed and had plans on enlarging and expanding it.

“Unfortunately, Covid came along and stopped all our plans.

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“Due to our insurers and the government’s regulations we closed the market.

“Three weeks ago, we started to re-open the market phasing stalls in, starting with food and drink on a Friday with restricted hours.

“We had to do this to make our community to safe, our traders safe and our staff safe.”

The council said it planned to continue with adding in more stalls over the coming weeks but has made the decision to halt this after the demonstration came to its attention.

Around 15 traders have been contacted this morning to inform them of its recent decision.

Mrs Oliver said: “It would appear organisers are encouraging people to come to the market to demonstrate.

“As it stands public meetings of more than six are not allowed and with limited police presence in Downham Market we have a duty to act in the interests of public health, and as we have a duty as an employer this means that the market will be shut for the next two weeks.

“Over which time we will undertake a big review, liaise with the traders, and come back with a plan and a newly formed constitution.

“We want our market to stay, the town council is putting time and effort to make it bigger and better and for Downham to be known for its market.”

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