Friday, 2 March 2012

Sunday Trading

For those that might be wondering where I am on a sunday these days, it's a bit of a long story... oh, alright then.
In 2011, Cambridge City Council decided that the collection of small artist/makers, retired folk, part timers etc that trade on the sunday market need to be treated the same as weekday traders, ie, pay for their stall even if they are not attending.
Four sundays are allowed off without payment each year for holidays. The problem is, in January, craftspeople have no stock after Christmas. We do not order it from a wholesaler, we make the items we sell. If we do trade, we often make a loss at this time of year with precious little to sell. Most of us decide to come back in February, refreshed after a short break.
So when these new rules came into force last year, it wasn't long before I had used up my four weeks allowance on family events and the occasional weekend trading elsewhere (holiday? what's that?!)
The only choice I had (apart from pay for my vacant pitch for all of January) was to give up the regular pitch that I had occupied on a sunday for nearly five years and go "casual" as they call it, which consists of turning up on the day and being allocated a spare stall. Sounds like a plan.
I was intending to come back in February on this casual basis and trade for approximately 40 sundays in the year. Unfortunately, the Council are dragging their feet closing my old licence down and creating a new one.
There would be a simple solution- pay over £100 to clear my remaining market stall arrears that I have left on my old account. As at this time of the year, £100 is often a week's takings, I can't afford to do that with other bills to pay. I can arrange to pay it in installments but a new account has to be set up just for this. And that is what is holding things up.
Without clearing that amount from my old rent sheet, I am prevented from trading. In effect, I am cutting my trading hours by half. I have tried being patient, I have tried calling and e-mailing. Unfortunately, this has come to nothing.
So you might eventually see me here and there on the sunday market. You also might notice that there are fewer craftspeople and more traders buying in stock trading in the sunday market. I'm afraid that the trend is set to continue in the name of profitability. In the meantime, come and support All Saints market on the saturday. Although bear in mind that the Council also run this one too. Eventually they might start tinkering with the guidelines here too and we'll lose more small artists and makers to "progress".