DEFIANT crafters have promised to fight Stafford Borough Council after officials threatened to close a new market they claimed was in contravention of a medieval town charter.
Organisers of the Stafford Craft and Vintage Market were shocked when council officers contacted them to voice their concerns the day before opening in the town’s Oddfellows Hall.
Co-organiser James Affleck said: “I was just completely taken aback. To leave it until the last minute like that was a little bit below the belt.” But council officers deny thre are plans to close the market - although they admit they will monitor it.
Mr Affleck said after being quizzed about the nature of the craft market, the council officer told him about the medieval law which states that no market can be set up within 6.2 miles of Stafford Indoor Market.
“After I put the phone down, I just felt really angry that somebody from the council would phone up and try to put me off like that when I’m trying to earn myself a living and keep myself from benefits,” he said. “I was surprised, but I’m confident we will carry on and stand our ground and any trouble they try to give to us, we will fight them.”
Stallholder Sharron Rayner said when she was first told about the threat to close the market she thought it was a joke.
“I thought it was an idiotic idea,” she said. “We don’t sell fruit and veg, there’s nothing that’s sinister about it, we’re not taking anyone’s jobs away.” Another stallholder Neil Harrison said he thought closing down the market would be “short-sighted and petty”.
“We are trying to generate interest into Stafford and not just provide income for ourselves, but for the local economy,” he said.
A council spokesman said someone had been along to inspect the market and no action would be taken at this time.
"It's been blown out of proportion," he said. "We are going to continue to review it, but there is no intention to close it down at this time."