Stallholders are left out in the cold as building work forces market closure

SETTING DOWN STALL The market has been a fixture in Civic Way since 1999

Stallholders are left out in the cold as building work forces market closure

by William Mata | 12th December 2018

TUNBRIDGE WELLS Farmers’ Market is to close after 20 years because of building work in the town centre and no date has been set for its reopening.

The borough council has announced that the popular attraction, which can boast up to 25 stalls, will close on its current Civic Way site in the New Year.

The closure will allow nearby development work to get underway at the new £13million Amelia Scott culture hub and also the public realm works on Mount Pleasant Road.

Established in 1999, the market provides a selection of food and garden products.

The authority has not confirmed when, or even if, the bi-monthly market [held the second and fourth Saturdays] will return long after its Christmas special on December 22. The likely date of the final market is January 26.

A statement read: “There is no suitable alternative site where the council can run the market given the need for access to utilities, storage space and access for vehicles.

“The future of the market once development work is complete has not been decided, when work is finished the council will review the market and consider how one could be provided.”

The Pantiles hosts a market on alternate Saturdays. The council has said organisers will contact Farmers’ Market sellers interested in trading there.

Stallholder John Botterell, of the family-run Botterell’s Fresh Fish, called this a ‘ridiculous’ suggestion.

He said: “It is a real shame the market, where we have been based since 2002, will disappear because we will lose our loyal base of customers.

“Tunbridge Wells is always a steady market and this will really affect us. There is no point us, or many stalls, going to The Pantiles as there are shops that duplicate our trade.

“We received a letter from the council last week to say the market would not re-open after January and that there would be a review to re-open it in 2021.”

Another trader, who did not wish to be named, told the Times: “The Pantiles is not a good alternative as it is a very different market.

“I suggested the Clock Tower at Fiveways, which seems to be the perfect location.”

The Chili and Herb Farm owner Stephen Wood said he would turn his attention to other local markets.

He added that the 2021 date suggested was ‘not a realistic prospect’ as it would force people to ‘put their businesses on hold for three years’.

All three said they had not been involved in any consultation.

The Times has seen comments made

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