Campaign to reopen farmers markets begins legal action

A campaign to reopen two west London farmers markets has now begun legal action against the council that forced them to close.

Ross Spurrier, the founder of RMS Markets who started Bishops Park Farmers Market and Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market, is now pursuing the case through a legal challenge against Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s decision.

He has launched a petition on to reopen his markets and is funding his legal campaign through crowdfunding on Just Giving.

Spurrier said: “The markets are very popular, and it just makes no sense to us.

“We are now in a position where restrictions are being relaxed, indoor shops are open, hairdressers are open, pubs and restaurants are allowed to serve outside.

“We are an outdoor market. It is beyond our comprehension.”

LEGAL ACTION: The markets were told they could reopen on 17th April

Both markets have been closed since January, and were told they would be able to reopen on 17th April after lockdown restrictions on non-essential shops were lifted.

However they have since been informed that they will not be allowed to reopen at all.

In an email sent out to borough residents, Spurrier said he did not understand how or why the council have reached this decision, nor did he feel that these markets had been treated equitably given that all other open-air markets in the borough and throughout the county have remained open throughout this year.

He accused Hammersmith & Fulham Council of playing politics with people’s livelihoods.

Spurrier added: “We’ve got at least 55 small businesses who are reliant on our markets for their livelihood, this is truly devastating.

“When I informed our traders about the closure I ended up with two of them on the phone to me in tears.

“They claim to be supportive of small businesses and yet they go and do this.”

DEVASTATED: RMS Markets founder Ross Spurrier

Kath Dawson is from Ted’s Veg, a farming company that sells their produce at London Farmer’s Markets.

She said: “It’s a really great market, it’s very child and dog friendly and people friendly, everything has been done towards that market to make it work, and to make it work properly with the COVID restrictions.”

A spokesperson from the council said: “The farmers markets remain closed on public health advice, but we look forward to re-establishing such attractions in our parks when the current health crisis allows.

“The farmers markets were originally introduced to encourage footfall, but as the pandemic has taken hold, pressure on space within our parks has become extremely high. We have therefore prioritised all the space in our parks for the facilitation of sport, fitness, play and recreation.

“We also recognise that the pandemic has had a detrimental effect on local shops, cafes, and restaurants so we will take this opportunity to review the purpose of the markets and develop a new set of outcomes so we best support local businesses and residents.

“Once this has been developed the opportunity to operate markets in council parks will then be advertised through a competitive tender process.”

A link to the petition can be found here and a link to the crowdfunding campaign can be found here.

Pictures courtesy of RMS Markets

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