- Posted by: Canterbury Labour
- Category: Latest News
Yesterday evening (20/10/21) Canterbury City Council made history, by abolishing the last of it’s historic street markets, why? Gentrification of the city centre.
Six Councillors, four of them city councillors, spoke against the proposal to abolish the market arguing that it was not necessary for the plans to improve the paving, lighting and general appearance.
The Regeneration Committee (yes the same one where last month a councillor admitted he didn’t know Canterbury was a World Heritage site) had a paucity of financial information on the proposal that will cost a total of £1.2 million. Money which it was argued was far in excess of what is needed to improve the appearance of the St George’s street end of the city.
No-one was arguing against improved paving or lighting; what was argued was that the cost was disproportionate to the benefits.
It was accepted by the city councillors that the trees needed attention rather than removal, that the market which brings in an operating profit of £27 thousand per year could remain alongside the Christmas market.
The sweetener offered to the market traders is that they could apply for street trader licenses, very different to market licenses in that the Council will charge more and have more control over who would be granted a licence.
It was quite unbelievable that the consultation, whose results were ambiguous, had been framed in a biased way: i.e. stating that the market area has been declining for years, that it gives a poor impression, etc.
One of the derided post war buildings built in 1954 had won a prestigious RIBA design award in 1957.
Too often decisions about Canterbury city centre are being whipped through by Ben Fitter-Harding’s team of councillors from elsewhere when more information and debate is needed.
If the council moves to the Cabinet system the chance we had yesterday evening to raise points will be lost.
There is one glimmer of hope for St Georges market, recorded as operating twice a week by Edward Hasted in 1800; the committee approved an amendment removing the word ‘permanent’ from the proposal to abolish the market. We can, and should resist the closing of the market and continue to protest against unnecessary expenditure.