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Market war erupts in Muswell Hill as traders banned

PUBLISHED: 18:52 17 March 2017 | UPDATED: 18:52 17 March 2017

Mackenzie Crook

Mackenzie Crook

Archant

Traders have been banned from selling or supplying their produce at a new farmers’ market launching in Muswell Hill this weekend because they are already signed up to one in Alexandra Palace.

Amanda and Clare Leach are launching Fortismere Food Market after the success of their Highgate Village MarketAmanda and Clare Leach are launching Fortismere Food Market after the success of their Highgate Village Market

Amanda and Clare Leach, of Stalls4All were stunned this week when half a dozen traders rang to tell them that they couldn’t sell their produce at the new Fortismere Village Market this Sunday from 11am.

It’s a “devastating” blow to the sisters-in-law who are still going ahead with the launch at Fortismere School in Tetherdown where Mackenzie Crook, star of Pirates of the Caribbean, is booked to cut the ribbon.

The sisters have accused the City and Country Farmers Market (CCFM), which runs the well-established and very popular Alexandra Palace Farmers Market on the same day, of being “mean” and “unfair”.

Amanda said: “The traders signed a contract with them and the small print said they can’t trade in any market within one mile of theirs.

“They are not happy about it and it’s caused a huge row. They signed six weeks with us and with them.

“One trader had a meeting with them and said he did the drive from their market to us and it was more than a mile but they said they’ll be sending someone to check up on them whether they are selling or supplying someone who is and if they are attending our market they won’t be able to attend theirs.”

Stalls4All were approached by Fortismere School after hearing about the very popular farmer’s market run by the sisters at St Michael’s School in Highgate on Saturdays, which Clare’s children attend.

They launched their company last year in response to the cut in school fundings, with Amanda saying “that’s how we got involved.”

Of the initial 23 stalls booked there will now be 17, unless they can find alternative traders before Sunday.

Amanda added: “Farmers markets are about supporting farms and local producers and what they are doing is stopping them from making any money. Obviously they are really concerned about us, and seeing us as competition. They are a well established market; their traders won’t stop trading for them just because of us. It’s just really mean and really unfair on us and our traders. We are devastated.”

However Chris Elder, director of CCE, defended his company policy saying he “heard on the market grape-vine” that traders have signed to Stalls4All.

He said: “As soon as they book to us traders are banned by our terms and conditions. It’s a very simple ruling that we have and it’s not in the small print.”

He said the Fortismere Village Market is “0.9 miles away according to Google directions” from the Alexandra Park market, which sees more that 3,000 visitors a week.

He added: “Why set up a market less than a mile away, I would never do something like that.

“All this is going to do is just dilute everything and you do that and the market dies. The last thing I want is for a market to die. I want every market that’s started to be successful. People who organise markets should do their homework.”

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