Labour have today released new designs of not St Georges Place could be improved by Canterbury City Council without the removal of the much loved market traders who give the city much of its character.
Canterbury City Council has recently proposed spending over £1m on the re-paving of St George’s Place, chopping down trees and changing the use of the space.
Councillor Mel Dawkins who represents Canterbury City South at Kent County Council said “although, we recognise the need to smarten up the high street, many of us are opposed to fact that they want to make it harder for market / street traders to set up on this spot and put up the prices for pitches.
I believe it is the market stalls that creates the atmosphere and buzz there and without them, it is just an average high street like you see up and down the country.”
Northgate Councillor Alan Baldock has recently successfully intervened to ensure that the hundreds of signatures collected by shoppers would be eligible as evidence of support during the consultation as many of those who use the service are also unsure about how to fill in the consultation online.
Jeb Hughes who is one of the market traders warned that the plans could affect fifty small business and up to one hundred and twenty families that rely on the market for their income.
In an email to all councillors Jeb wrote that because the council ” owns the Whitefriars shopping centre” they re more interested in “street traders operate in the Whitefriars square even though it conflicts with traders in the high street.”
Councillors Pip Hazleton, Pat Edwards, Alister Brady and Jean Butcher joined Mel at the first day of the new public petition being released. The traders’ campaign has the support of the National Market Traders Federation and Canterbury Labour Group.
Speaking on the plans, Cllr Dawkins said “my opinion is that the repaving of the area will not do much to improve the ‘worn out’ look that is suggested will do. I would say that rendering the 60 /70’s brick work on the buildings above the shops would do more to smarten up the street.
However, with the so many businesses hit by the pandemic , new paving isn’t going to disguise the lack of empty shops. What is needed is revitalisation of the retail business, lower business rates and affordable rents with incentives for start-ups such community business hubs, working co-operatives, and investing in our local economy and people.”
Graphics by Sam Marner