Hempsted Meadows car boot sale market falls victim to health and safety
MARKET traders hoping to boost winter profits were left furious by a decision to shut Hempsted Meadows Market just minutes before gates were due to open.
City council chiefs have come under fire after a decision to keep the gates locked due to health and safety fears.
Traders and shoppers were angry at the move on Wednesday as privately-run Cheltenham Racecourse Market stayed open on Sunday at the height of the snow.
Bob Newby, from Sandhurst, is a market regular and said the decision came too late, just minutes before traders arrived on site at 5.30am.
"Yet again, five millimeters of snow and the council's reaction is to close up shop and go home," he said.
"No wonder our city has the nickname of 'The Graveyard'.
"Despite traders phoning to check the market would be open for business, the council operatives put the closed sign up just five minutes before opening time. Dozens of traders from as far as Wales and Redditch were queuing with as many shoppers to get in, only to be turned away on the grounds of safety, regardless of the impact on traders' livelihoods.
"This is yet another nail in the coffin of their existence."
Frost, surface water and snow have all previously been used as reasons to close the market.
There are 199 pitches for traders and free parking for more than 400 cars.
The city council insists the decision was made due to concerns over health and safety.
A council spokesman said: "We do not shut down our services lightly.
"In the current bad weather, we have been one of only two councils in the county to have kept its refuse collection service operating. However, when we have sudden and significant snowfalls, we need to take account of public safety."
Hempsted Meadows Market and car boot sale takes place every Wednesday and Sunday.