Poll: Do you support the ban on political parties hiring stalls at Swaffham Market?
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Market traders and customers have welcomed a ban on political parties hiring pitches at Swaffham Market – but politicians branded the move 'a vote to ban freedom of speech'.
The issue was raised when UKIP asked to hire a stall at the market and town clerk Richard Bishop asked town councillors to clarify the policy.
They raised fears that party politics could lead to customers avoiding nearby stalls, costing them trade.
Paul Darby, a Swaffham town councillor, said: 'I remember in the past when there were tombola stalls, and it does discourage people from wandering to that area. People will avoid that bit of the market and if you get it next to one of the traders I think it would discourage people from going to that area.'
However Michael Wassell, deputy leader of Breckland Council, tweeted: 'Surely political discussion should be encouraged, its called democracy, what next – not allowing campaigning on streets of Swaffham?'
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Former Swaffham mayor Ian Sherwood tweeted: 'We need to encourage political engagement not ban it – bad decision' and Labour leader Terry Jermy replied: 'I'm with Ian on this one, we live in a democracy and all parties should be given opportunity to promote their thoughts/ideologies'.
One stallholder, who had a UKIP stall next to her at another market, said: 'They stand next to you and drag people to their stall and take people away from you. They have got no respect for us.'
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Narborough resident Teresa Cox said: 'We come to the market for a shop and sometimes it can get too much in your face with political people. People have busy lives. I think it would be bad for some of the traders.'