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Cambridge market to reopen following huge backlash

Cambridge market will reopen from next week following backlash from traders and residents. Cambridge City Council shut the market from the…

By admin , in Cambridge , at January 12, 2021 Tags:

Cambridge market will reopen from next week following backlash from traders and residents.

Cambridge City Council shut the market from the first of the month over concerns that it was attracting people to the city centre and that people were not social distancing around the stalls.

The council said it was reopening the market from next Monday, January 18, following a petition that gained nearly 7,000 residents’ signatures, criticism from opposition councillors, and backlash from the market traders.

Opposition Liberal Democrats councillors took the unusual step of calling an extraordinary meeting to discuss the market that was due to take place next week.

Cllr Rosy Moore, executive councillor for the city centre, said that a new layout and risk assessment will now be discussed with the public health team and stallholders about how the market can reopen safely after the “circuit breaker” closure.

There will be a reduced number of stalls, with those selling essential goods prioritised, with plans being finalised this week.

The council plans to reopen on Monday since it will be quieter and will not draw big weekend crowds.

The market was fenced off during the period of closure with metal fencing constructed.

Cllr Moore said: “Everyone in Cambridge will be glad to see the market reopen next Monday.

“It’s the heart of our city-centre providing a living for traders as well as good food for Cambridge residents, local shopping rather than the previous draw for people from way beyond the city.

“The first question we asked when a temporary closure was recommended was – when can we reopen and what do we need to put in place to make that happen as soon as possible?

“Re-opening the market safely and successfully takes careful planning, and reducing the number of stalls requires consultation.

“That means we’ve prepared the fairest way of allocating pitches.”

The council said it closed the market initially following advice from the Cambridgeshire County Council’s director of public health about the risk of transmission of Covid-19 in overcrowded outdoor spaces.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, council leader, said: “Keeping Cambridge safe is and has to be our priority.

“Infection rates have sadly been rising rapidly in Cambridge since Christmas because the new variant of coronavirus is over 50 per cent more transmissible.

“We’ve listened to people’s concerns and known since last March how important the market is to them.

“But we also need to prevent a repetition of the dangerous overcrowding we were seeing in the market square.

“Lots of people feel safer shopping outdoors, but it isn’t risk-free.”

He added: “We will work closely with traders on a safe reopening plan, as we have done since last March through some really testing times.

“We will work with them to make next weeks reopening successful, and then beyond that on a fuller reopening plan for when lockdown eventually ends, which doesn’t look like being for a while yet.”

He cited advice from chief medical officer Chris Whitty, who said on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If people, for example, are crowded together in a queue outdoors, if they’re really huddled together round a market stall or something, that is a risk with this virus and in that situation, there might be some logic to people thinking about wearing masks.”

Roberto Sanna, who runs Roberto’s Deli, said: “It’s lovely news.

“It’s when they put all the traders on top of each other that caused the problems, so I hope the council learned its lessons and its not going to make the same mistakes in the future.

“I’m sure we can learn something from this, but that’s really lovely news.”

Mr Sanna previously said that if a handful of traders were not enforcing the rules around their stalls, then those stalls should be shut down, rather than everyone paying the price.

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