Ossett Market trader frustrated by 'unfairness' as Wakefield Council rules his stall is not essential service

A market trader has been left "frustrated" and "upset" by a council's refusal to let him return to his stall.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 3:33 pm
Steve runs his business alongside his wife Joanne.

Plant and garden supplies seller Steve Woods says thousands of pounds worth of his stock may "go to waste", because Wakefield Council claim his service is not deemed essential under government guidelines.

But Steve, who runs his business with his wife Joanne, disputes this and says stall holders selling the same produce have been allowed back at markets elsewhere, including across North Yorkshire.

Garden centres are open under the current lockdown rules, but nurseries, which are smaller and tend to sell plants directly from where they are grown, are not.

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Steve insists he was correctly bracketed with garden centres during the first lockdown, but is now incorrectly classed as a nursery by the council.

Steve says he's been incorrectly classed as a nursery, pointing out that he sells from the market despite growing them at a small holding in a nearby village.

Steve, 62, said: "We don’t make a fortune, but we get by and we really enjoy what we do.

"I’d understand if it was the same for everybody. I’d happily accept it, but it’s the unfairness of it which is the problem.

"I was watching Calendar the other night, and there was a piece on Richmond where Rishi Sunak's constituency is, and there was a plant seller in the background on the market.

Steve would normally trade at Ossett Market on Tuesdays and Fridays.

"I've been in touch with Ripon Market and they're allowing plant sellers to trade too.

"We know another lad who does the same as we do and he’s in the same boat and can’t trade.

"It’s frustrating and upsetting. They’ve really thrown us under the bus with it."

Steve, who lives in Leeds, said that the council allowed him to return to Ossett Market earlier than most traders during the first lockdown, when garden centres reopened just a couple of weeks after restrictions were imposed

He suggested that that decision was now at odds with its current stance, given garden centres are now open.

He said that although he'd been able to claim from the business grant scheme, he and his partner were still under a "financial burden" from being unable to trade.

"It's heartbreaking because we're growing all this produce and we can't sell it," he added.

In response, the council's service director for leisure, Julie Russell, said: "We understand this is a challenging time for many traders.

"However the sale of plants from stalls is not a permitted activity under current government restrictions.

"Businesses can contact the council for help and support and for advice on financial support which may be available, by emailing [email protected] or calling 01924 306 630."

Local Democracy Reporting Service