High Peak Council hits back in Buxton artisan market row

Buxton artisan market
Buxton artisan market

High Peak Borough Council has responded to comments by the organiser of Buxton’s artisan market concerning the event’s future in the town.

Organisers The Market Co said this week that the market would not be going ahead on Saturday - and might not return again - and predominantly blamed High Peak Borough Council for the cancellation.

In a statement posted on Facebook, The Market Co said: “Sadly the delivery of the event in Buxton has been beset with obstacles and hurdles from a variety of adversaries and various agendas over the last 12 months.

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“Political issues and timings surrounding the ongoing procurement process for the traditional weekly market on the Market Place meant we were told by High Peak Borough Council that we should not apply, nor would it be granted if we did, for a license for this August event.”

The statement also criticised the “escalating costs imposed to fulfil the many caveats” of the street trading license issued by the authority, adding: “Our reluctancy to apply for future licenses has been exacerbated and compounded by a number of factors not least the opposition from Buxton Town Team (BTT) to the positioning of our event on Spring Gardens, versus their preferred location of the Market Place, and the negativity and hostility from a small minority of Spring Gardens retailers.

“Until we know the outcome of the procurement process and the additional limitations this may impose upon our presence, the possibility of our return is at least uncertain and most probably unlikely in the current circumstances.”

Artisan markets have been running in the town since June 2014, and in December the council granted permission for it to continue on the Market Place until September 2015. The Market Co later requested a move to Spring Gardens, saying it was no longer viable on the Market Place, and was granted permission in April to operate in Spring Gardens.

Responding to the criticism, the authority’s deputy leader Cllr Tony Kemp said there were many practical constraints to using Spring Gardens for an extensive outdoor market, and that The Market Co had “seen everyone else’s reasonable concerns as obstacles and ‘limitations’ put in their way, and that they did not wish to continue working here unless they were given a totally free hand”.

The new operator of the borough’s traditional weekly markets is due to be announced shortly, Cllr Kemp confirmed, following a tendering process.

He continued: “The Market Co have made clear that they do not wish to hold markets on Buxton’s historic Market Place and they did not choose to bid for the out-sourced management contract. Fair enough, that’s their commercial decision; however, the council also has to ensure safety and fairness as and when events are held in Spring Gardens and also that, if at all possible, events are held consistently throughout the year.

“The artisan markets made an interesting and in many ways positive contribution to the Buxton scene in recent years. It is a shame that for some reason, and very much to our surprise they have decided to bow out with some rather misleading and inaccurate comments.

“In respect of the comment regarding the licensing process, the nature of the out-sourcing tender process was such that specific timings were unpredictable and because of this it was simply not possible for a licence application to be applied for, and granted in time to enable an August market to happen.”