UPDATE: Holt traders hit back at ‘verbal abuse’ allegations as summer markets are scrapped

Bemused traders have hit back at a town mayor after a controversial crop of summer markets in Holt was scrapped amid allegations of 'verbal abuse and threats'.

With just over a week to go until the first of the markets on Fish Hill, Holt mayor Bryan Payne announced the decision to abandon the plan.

He said: 'My councillors and officers have been subjected to verbal abuse and threats and I'm not going to allow that to continue.'

He said the local traders had failed to 'see the bigger picture', and added that the markets - scheduled to run every Friday from July 6 until the end of August - would have boosted trade in 'one of the quieter areas of the town'.

But Adrian Hill, owner of Picturecraft Gallery, speaking on behalf of a host of town traders, said shopkeepers were 'angry' about the mayor's allegations.

He said: 'Shopkeepers and the public lobbied hard but lobbied properly. There were certainly many traders who were very angry about the market plan, but the opposition has been organised professionally.'

He added: 'Ultimately, democracy has won the day. We are absolutely delighted that Holt is not going to lose any free town centre parking. It's lovely that the traders and the town stood together and got the stubborn town council to listen to us.'

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The planned markets, which emerged from the �30,000 Holt Vision study as one of a host of ideas to boost the Georgian town, sparked a storm among traders in the Bull Street and Fish Hill areas.

Hundreds of signatures were collected on a petition opposing the move, with traders angry that eight short-stay car parking spaces would be lost and that market traders could be selling similar products to them and reducing their income.

They also accused the town council of failing to properly consult them.

But the town council pointed out that it had secured 50 parking spaces at Gresham's Pre-prep School, which would be free for the first hour.

Mr Payne said: 'The market was highlighted in the Holt Vision document and there were no objections at the various public consultations that took place.

'It was going to be a small market, in general selling local products on a trial basis. It wouldn't have hurt any shopkeepers.'

He added: 'We believe this would attract more people to the town, put larger footfall in what is one of the quieter areas of the town and generally help all the traders.

'Unfortunately, they can't see the bigger picture. It's a great shame.'

Paul Reed, from P and S Butchers on Bull Street, said: 'It is quite pleasing because we feel that the people's voice has been heard. We have had an awful lot of support from customers and shop traders as well.

'We are glad the town council saw fit to listen to us. If we had just been consulted at first then it would have saved an awful lot of time.'

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