Easter often gives me the chance to go out and about on the Bank Holiday Friday and Monday, such a pleasant change from being chained to my computer.
I went to Haverfordwest market on Friday and then onto Newport on Monday. Trade was reasonable at Haverfordwest which was good to hear after a lot of poor reports have come into me.
However Newport was a very different story. Wind didn’t stop actually play, but the Newport Market Manager decided to cancel the market because of a forecast of gusts of wind over 30mph. The reason for this is it’s a limit imposed by St Dogmaels market, whose stalls Newport use, for Health & Safety reasons!!!
Pathetic doesn’t even cover this scenario, especially as St Dogmaels ran an Easter Fair themselves on Easter Monday, so Newport had to hire in stalls from Haverfordwest! So this was puzzling. Yes of course with that forecast, they’d have had to take extra care, but they’ve done this in the past, I think it comes under ‘sandbags and commonsense’.
I really couldn’t believe it. The Market Manager had listened to the weather report; gusts of wind were forecast, so the decision was made that the market would not run.
I assume that the Market Manager responsible for this decision has:
- Never worked as a market trader – or
- Never been self-employed when gusts of wind just don’t stop play, especially when you have the added pressure to earn some money to survive.
Surely I cannot be the only person that goes shopping in the wind and rain, can I? No of course not, otherwise most of Wales would at times be short of many basic food stuffs, sorry I’m being silly.
I was, and still am, cross with this feeble excuse for cancelling a weekly market as weekly markets are something I have been championing for years. Then Newport starts up a weekly market and I’m told by traders that business is quite good and much appreciated by the locals – brilliant – winners all round. As I regularly travel around Pembrokeshire, I’d seen a sign telling of their Monday market, but this was my first chance to visit, so I was also very disappointed.
I have two main moans, firstly for the producers. At least three traders made contact with the market manager on the Sunday afternoon/evening, one as late as 7.30pm to be told the market was going ahead. The Market Manager then sent out an email at 8.30pm Sunday night to say the market was cancelled. Did he/she really expect all the traders to be sat checking their computers on Sunday night? Or have these traders all been making so much money that they can afford email phones!!!!! Was it was too much trouble for the Market Manager to telephone every trader? Well obviously it was, because it didn’t happen. But I want to
know why not?
What about the physical work the traders had already had to do to get themselves and their stock organised for Easter Monday? Vegetables had been picked, cakes baked, sausages made and some extra animals killed. To prepare produce takes planning and that is not something that can be achieved in 5 minutes, some traders have to plan a week ahead. Then my concern moves to the locals who had possibly decided not to do a huge supermarket shop over the weekend knowing that their market would be
operating as usual on Monday. Local shoppers supporting local producers, isn’t this how it should happen?
If the Market Manager is going to continue flapping about Health & Safety procedures, then why not close the road as normal every week? Newport has the legal signs and cones, so that’s not a problem and then any traders that wish to trade in inclement weather, have the ability to do. Traders could also bring their own stands, so that would also save you a job, wouldn’t it? What I saw on Easter Monday morning, was a few determined traders running around Newport trying to find somewhere to trade from.
The more I think about this cancellation, the more puzzled I am. What difference does it make to that ‘wise’ Market Manger who decided to cancel this Easter Monday market, what did the wind and rain matter to them? Unless he/she had simply decided they’d just rather not work at all. If it’s a windy, wet day the people that are taking the risk are the traders, no-one else. If the weather deters locals attending, then obviously traders’ takings will be down, but the traders will have already paid for their stands so where is the loss for Newport? Does the Market Manager get paid regardless whether a market is run or not?
I know I’m not alone, that weekly markets are well accepted by locals and they do like the ability to do their shopping locally each and every week, it really is that simple. I wonder how many people like me decided to take the opportunity to visit a Monday or Friday market that they can only visit on this Bank Holiday?
The organisers must be loyal and supportive to the traders and the local people – goodness knows how much trade was lost through the holiday makers that were about. I hope the Market Manager issues an apology to those poor traders who lost out big time on Easter Monday and my congratulations to those few traders who decided to trade anyway.
I’m sure some of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers will keep me updated about Newport.