Rachael Maskell has urged Make It York to think again over the ‘extremely long hours’ imposed on market traders this Christmas.
The Labour candidate for York Central says she spoke to the organisation yesterday (Tuesday) after meeting with stallholders and being “shocked to hear how our very hardworking traders are being treated”.
She said that “there seems to be a way through, and I am now hopeful that Make It York will listen to traders and local people and come up with a compromise that works for everyone”.
But Make It York managing director Sean Bullick said no changes could be made:
Whilst we appreciate the impact this may have on the day to day operations of the Shambles Market stallholders, the decision has been made following advice from our retained experts that this is a necessary step to ensure the safety of those in the city centre during the busy market period.
Ms Maskell and Labour councillor Fiona Fitzpatrick met with Shambles Market traders after learning about the Christmas arrangements.
Make It York has told traders they will not be given vehicle access to the market until 8pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 6pm on other nights, from this week until Christmas.
They say this is a public safety measure, but stallholders say it means they would be working up to 16-hour days in contravention to their contract and putting their own health at risk.
Ms Maskell said:
Shambles Market is an important and well-loved part of our city and many local people have been shocked to hear how our very hardworking traders are being treated.
Not only will these changes force traders to work extremely long hours often in freezing conditions, they also pose huge problems for traders with children who will face a loss of income unless they can find additional childcare on Friday and Saturday evenings in the run up to Christmas.
Make It York as an organisation is there to support and nurture our business community and it is extremely important to everyone that it is doing all they can to support this vital group of small York businesses.
I am hopeful that Make It York and the council will now urgently work together and confirm new arrangements that will ensure the livelihoods and well-being of these small business owners are protected, as has happened in previous years.
Ms Maskell said she understood that council transport professionals and North Yorkshire Police’s counter terrorism team had suggested a controlled access system that would allow market traders to access the market earlier while still protecting public safety, as has happened in previous years. But this suggestion has so far been rejected by Make It York.
‘Railroaded the decision’
“I’ve been really disappointed in the lack of flexibility from Make it York on this matter, who have so far railroaded this decision through without any concern for the permanent traders who occupy Shambles market all year round,” said Fiona Fitzpatrick, who represents the city centre Shambles Market area on the council.
These current plans from Make it York for managing the highly lucrative Christmas market look set to pit the interests of out of town businesses coming into York for the seasonal Parliament Street market, against those who occupy Shambles market all year round.
People are concerned that valued, local stall holders who work in York week in and week out, are having their lives made so difficult.
So far the council have taken no action since this issue raised its head. It’s imperative that the council acknowledges the value of our market traders and responds accordingly to this issue by working with Make it York to change this situation before it’s too late.
Kevin Tuohy, chair of Shambles Market Business Group said traders are trying our best to make a living and to support the local economy.
“We feel like we are it’s lifeblood. To be treated as one supportive reader yesterday put it as ‘second class citizens’ really saddens us and this realisation makes us think that Make It York do not value our contribution to the city at all,” he said.
Make It York’s response
“Whilst we appreciate the impact this may have on the day to day operations of the Shambles Market stallholders, the decision has been made following advice from our retained experts that this is a necessary step to ensure the safety of those in the city centre during the busy market period.
“Make It York have considered the proposed alternative arrangements, however, having done so, the advice on public safety remains the same.
“Our paramount responsibility and concern is to ensure that everyone who works and lives in the city and those who are attending the Christmas markets can do so in a safe environment – and the measures being rolled out this year are in response to this.”