Willow Brook store vetoes Town Council farmers’ market initiative

Farmers' Market [photo: avlxyz; licence: a-sa 2.0 generic]

An unnamed store at Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook shopping centre has vetoed the Town Council’s plan to establish a monthly farmers’ market in the Town Square.

July’s meeting of Full Council had been told that Council staff were keen to set up a regular farmers’ and artisans’ market in the Town Square and that initial discussions with the Willow Brook Centre had proved fruitful.

Staff had made contact with a local market organiser and advice had been sought from officials at South Gloucestershire Council.

Some Councillors expressed surprise that Tesco had not objected to the plan on the grounds that it might affect their trade but Town Clerk Sharon Petela explained that experience elsewhere showed that the reverse was true, citing  the market held outside Waitrose in Portishead as an example.

However, hopes were dashed at last night’s meeting of the Leisure , Youth & Amenities Committee, where it was reported that Willow Brook Centre Manager Scott Lahive has since “received objections from one of the major tenants [of the centre]”.

Councillors expressed dismay at the change of heart, with Cllr Julian Barge describing the objections as “narrow minded”.

The first market had been due to take place on Wednesday 6th October and the monthly event had already been publicised on the Farmers’ Markets page of the Taste South Gloucestershire website.

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  1. Just goes to prove the “town centre” isn’t for residents to enjoy but for the corporate tenants to make money from.

  2. It was a great idea and sad it has failed to materialise. The Market if well advertised might well be placed elsewhere in Bradley Stoke faciltated by the Town Council. This may have the affect on the days it is held of drawing trade away from whoever it was that complained. I wonder if it is possible to find out which trader resisted the suggestion to have it in the Town Centre. Cllr Brian Hopkinson

  3. Chris – I agree! Shouldn’t the community have its say?! I too would like to know which trader ‘resisted’ the suggestion.

  4. I must admit seeing the signs a while back during the rebuilding of the Tesco site saying something along the lines of “Bradley Stoke Town Centre” brought to you be Tesco” were really a precursor to this kind of thing. I guess the article doesn’t go so far as to name Tesco as the objector, it would be difficult to see which other ‘Major Tenant! would have anything to lose.

    It would be so good for Bradley Stoke to have something like a farmers market, in fact any kind of independent store would be good to see. A true town centre is one of the major things missing from many new developments, without which they all tend to merge into Anytown, Anywhere.

  5. As mentioned in the article a vibrant town centre is entirely within Tesco’s interest. Not only does it draw shoppers into its own store but it also boosts the rents it can command from the other traders.

    I would guess its one of the fast food outlets. They would suffer competition (pre-cooked food is a big money spinner for traders on farmers markets) and the “quality of the outdoor seating experience” would diverge from the blessed corporate template.

  6. Dont lets assume its Tesco that has objected because if you read the article experience elsewhere has shown that such companies actually benefit from farmers markets.

  7. I would also be interested to know who objected,and importantly, on what grounds?

    As said in the article and subsequent comments, I would not imagine that Tesco sees this as a major competitor – this is shown by the stores already open in WBC, none of them present serious competition to Tesco, and let’s face it, some Farmers Markets, it’s the quality of the food that makes a difference, if people are shopping merely on price, a lot of goods on sale would be left and people will walk straight to Tesco to buy “a more affordable” option.

    It would be interesting if Tesco were the objectors though.

  8. Me again.

    It may be ineffective, but I have emailed the Town Council asking who raised the objections and on what grounds.

    If the objections are fair ones, then it’s understandable, however, simply advising us that it had been vetoed and leaving us all to draw our own conclusions, is not the way to go with this.

    If by some miracle I get a reply, I will let you know, but I did ask that they advise us by using this website or their own.

  9. It’s disappointing that at present there is a store which has objected to the planned Farmer’s Market. However, let’s not give up hope of achieving a positive outcome to this story. I attended a seminar in June at which other small local authorities were saying that Farmers’ Markets increased the “footfall” in their towns and so it may just be ignorance which is stopping 100% support. I believe this is the right thing for our town centre and will keep pushing for it until we succeed.

  10. Hi Joanne,

    The reason the council haven’t said which store has raised an objection is that we don’t know. We also haven’t used the word “vetoed” and it would certainly not be my preferred choice of language.

    Discussions with the centre management are ongoing. It is they who have informed us that one of their tenants has raised an objection. They haven’t told us who and I don’t think speculation about that will help at this stage.

    I’m delighted to see so many people commenting on here in support of the market. Demonstrating how popular the market would be is definitely going to be helpful in bringing these plans to fruition.

  11. Setting aside the issue of who objected for a moment and assuming it does go ahead somewhere else, wouldn’t it be nice if for once just one of these good community initiatives actually took place at the weekend?

    If you’ve ever been to Stroud’s very popular Saturday farmers’ market you’ll see that it’s short-sighted to hold one when many people just can’t come. It seems that yet again those who work during the week will miss out.

  12. I’m rather surprised that just one retailer seemingly has the power to “veto” such a scheme. I guess they don’t in the democratic sense – the problem is more that Bradley Stoke’s town centre isn’t really Bradley Stoke’s town centre – it is a small area within a Tesco-owned retail property where the order of precedence will necessarily be:

    o Keeping Tesco happy
    o Keeping Tesco’s tenants heppy
    o Some other commerical considerations
    o Keeping the townsfolk happy

    As such, one tenant complaining is probably enough to scupper the whole shebang, lest they take their rent elsewhere.

  13. I am pleased to report that BSTC have provided a very quick response to my email of yesterday. It reiterates what Cllr Jones said above, and I apologise for my confusion for also using the word veto, which is clearly a headline generated by the Journal.

    I have replicated the email below. As it clearly states, the TC don’t know who objected and I thank them for making that clear.

    I await the outcome of Willow Brook Management Team’s action with interest.

    “Bradley Stoke Town Council do not know which tenant has objected to the proposed Farmer’s/Artisan market. We were notified by the Willow Brook Management Centre that they had “received some objections from one of the Centre’s major tenants”. Since the Willow Brook will be applying for the trading licence for the Market, nothing can be progressed until these objections have been looked into by the Willow Brook Management Team.

    Bradley Stoke Town Council acknowledges that this is a setback and the
    proposals are on hold for the moment, but they have never said that the
    idea was being “vetoed”.”

  14. The Farmer’s Market is a fantastic idea but I too would like to see it held on a weekend. If the decision not to hold one is based on the objections of one retailer then the process is grossly unfair. Fingers crossed we get the go ahead, it would certainly draw me into the town.

  15. For those interested, I had a meeting with Tesco manager, Dean Taylor last week and he confirmed that Tesco hadn’t objected and would support a trial period to assess the impact.

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