Fair likely to fold after shops complain

OPPOSITION from residents of Earsham Street and the town council looks to have scuppered plans for a Big Green Street Fair at Bungay in the autumn.Some shops there are said not to want what would be a fourth annual market in their street - the others attract thousands of people to Bungay.

OPPOSITION from residents of Earsham Street and the town council looks to have scuppered plans for a Big Green Street Fair at Bungay in the autumn.

Some shops there are said not to want what would be a fourth annual market in their street - the others attract thousands of people to Bungay. And with the council this week opposing an application to close the street for the events, organisers indicated they did not want to upset people and now were likely to cancel the fair.

The controversy flared in an acrimonious debate at Monday's town council meeting which made clear the opposition to the plan by Sustainable Bungay for the fair on September 13.

Members said residents and shops had told them they did not want any more disruption and inconvenience to their lives and some claimed the organisers of it had been abrasive in their approach to them.

At the end of the debate, by a majority of 6-2 with two abstentions, the council recommended an application to close Earsham Street for the day should be refused.

At the start of the meeting council member Didy Ward, speaking as a member of the public during public question time, said the chamber of trade had agreed to the fair, the aim of which was to promote local shop activities, local trade and produce.

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“We keep it local, with local food and sustainable living. It will feel the same as existing street markets and a bit like the Aldeburgh Food Fair and country market,” she said.

But Angela Brook, also a councillor and an Earsham Street resident, said she had no objection to local fairs “but I have enormous objection, and so do my neighbours, to the way it has been done. We give the three flagship street fairs our wholehearted support but it is at a cost - there is more shop lifting, some shops cannot get their deliveries, and the London bus does not know where to stop.”

She said the first thing anyone heard about the Big Green market was in the press, and then Sustainable Bungay sent a letter to residents which, though not rude, “tells us exactly what is going to happen…there has been no discussion, consultation or liaison, and people were told if they did not open their shops they would not be supporting Bungay. It could have been done much better. People's feelings have been ignored.”

Later during council discussion Dave O'Neill said people had told him the approaches by the organisers had been “on the brusque side or worse. It is a great shame because it could be a wonderful event…the problem has been the whole approach and it has damaged the whole thing about street fairs.”

John Groom said several traders had approached him saying they were not in favour of the fair.

“I feel there is a lot of opposition in Earsham Street to this and it seems to be gathering momentum. Probably 50 per cent of the street does not want it to happen. They have doubts about its viability and I know John Pestell (who organises the three street markets) also has grave doubts.”

Janet Blowers-O'Neill questioned whether the organisation was capable of running an event of that size, and John Palin agreed.

“I am for anything that promotes Bungay, but there would be nothing worse than having something that goes off at half-cock and proves a failure when the other three are successful,” he said.

Deirdre Shepherd said anything new in Bungay seemed to face opposition.

“I understand the way the fair has been organised and I don't think the approach has been sensitive, but if it cannot be done in Earsham Street, why not have it on the Castle Bailey?” she said.

Josiah Meldrum, of Sustainable Bungay and the co-ordinating committee for the fair, indicated later that he felt the opposition would mean the event would be cancelled. They were obviously disappointed that the council have taken that view.

“Over the past year members of Sustainable Bungay have worked very hard on plans for the Big Green Street Market and it was to be the centre-piece of a full day of activities linked to sustainability,” he said.

“We'd just secured some excellent stalls for a children's learning and play area by the Castle and were in the process of booking experts from all over the country to speak on a range of issues - from local food through to renewable energy. All this will now be cancelled as, without the buzz of the market, these activities will seem disparate and disjointed.

“Having spoken to all the traders on Earsham Street personally we had thought most were supportive - indeed many have booked stalls. In addition we wrote to all the residents explaining our plans and inviting them to contact us if they had any comments - as far as I'm aware none have.

“However Councillor Brook, who spoke out against the application, is an Earsham Street resident, and has been able to canvas more candid opinions from her neighbours revealing that the majority are fiercely opposed to the idea. We respect those views and have no intention of causing further upset.”

He said the committee would be discussing the re-action to the fair shortly “with a view to cancelling it for this year. Personally I don't think it is going to happen in Easham Street, though it is possible there could still be a scaled down event elsewhere.

“Suffolk County Council - which makes the final decision on closure applications - is quite happy with it and so are the police. But we won't go ahead without the blessing of the town. To go against that would be very difficult for a community group.”