New management committee to run Wisbech Market Place will exclude town clerk but include traders

HE stayed just 14 minutes to conclude formalities then town clerk Erbie Murat was off- to play no further part in the management committee set up to run Wisbech Market Place.

Part of the unofficial deal to resolve what’s been termed ‘marketgate’ was the decision by the Tory controlled council to hand all future arrangements for the market to a committee that excluded their town clerk.

Mr Murat had been at the centre of an escalating row over waste collection from market traders – and at one stage threatened to sue a trader for alleging he was not qualified to handle markets.

On Tuesday night, however, the committee- to be responsible for cleaning, toilets and markets- was set up and includes stall holder representatives and councillors with the clerk represented by his deputy, Susanah Farmer.

With a dozen or so traders at the town hall, Council Leader David Oliver convened the first meeting of the new committee immediately.

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The mayor, Councillor Vivien MacRae, promised “consultation and not confrontation” whilst Cllr Oliver promised they would all “go forward together”.

Cllr Oliver also promised the town council would continue to remove trade waste whilst a new arrangement could be made but agreed with one trader who labelled other parts of town “disgusting”. Cllr Oliver said these parts of town were not the town council’s responsibility.

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“We have a new committee, and a lot to learn,” he said.

Councillor Jonathan Farmer said the committee could consider opening Sundays and perhaps later opening.

He provoked an angry response by accusing Fenland Council of imposing an “eastern European control” on the way markets ran.

He said if there are six stalls wanting to sell concrete gnomes they should be allowed to as part of a “survival of the fittest” philosophy.

Angry traders said this was not feasible and they also wanted some control on casual traders.

Cllr Farmer retorted: “We should not be providing monopolies for people.”

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