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Stroud District Council: serving or dictating?

Gerb Gerbrands, founded a flourishing farmers’ market with Clare Honeyfield (Made In Stroud shop) in 1999 (more here).

In 2010 it was selected as the Best Food Market in the BBC Food and Farming Awards. Earlier this year it won the Farm And Retail Markets Association’s Farmers’ Market of the Year award jointly with Surbiton market in London.

Stroud District Council has shocked and angered stallholders, shopkeepers and the market’s customers by announcing that it was putting the contract to run the award-winning market out to tender after 14 successful years.

stroud petitionThe Stroud News and Journal reports that around 2,000 shoppers signed petition calling on Stroud District Council to reconsider its decision. Visitors to the market queued on Saturday to sign the petition.

The farmers’ market is widely viewed as essential to the town centre’s economic wellbeing. A bookstore owner warned of a ‘devastating effect’ on the town centre if the farmers’ market falls into the wrong hands, while another trader believes the tender process could spell the death of the High Street.

Vice-chairman of Stroud Chamber of Commerce Ron Cree, who owns R&R Books in Nelson Street, said: ““We already know that Gerb is up to it and it would be hard to envisage anyone else running it. It won farmers market of the year last year so what could possibly be done to make it any better.

We know best

A spokesman for SDC: “Councils are under increasing financial pressure to get the best value for money for our tax payers and the tender process will ensure that the market continues to be of a high quality and delivers good value for the public as we recognise its importance to local people and the local economy”.