Stallholders organic row in Swiss Cottage

�A fruit and veg seller’s livelihood and home are at risk as traders selling organic produce try to force him out of a Swiss Cottage market.

Alan Reynolds, 52, spent thousands of pounds setting up his stall, expecting to do business on three days a week. But after complaints from other stallholders he has lost his pitch, outside Hampstead Theatre, on Wednesdays, when the Farmers’ Market is held. Mr Reynolds’ stall breaks the rules because his produce is neither organic nor British.

The 52-year-old has invested most of his savings in the project. “We need to be here on Wednesday to make it financially viable,” he said. “I’ve invested in buying a van and joined the Market Traders Federation and if lose this stall there is a chance I will also lose my home.”

Mr Reynolds said the Town Hall’s environment boss told him he may have to leave due to an agreement with farmers’ market stallholders.

“Stallholders are supposed to be selling organic and British produce and our fruit is from all around the world,” he said. “They are not all farmers, so it’s a bit of a contradiction.”

Despite the protests, Mr Reynolds and his brother Alan – who works alongside him – claim the council wants them to stay.

They say the council has given them two weeks to gather enough public support to justify their position. As a result they set up a petition last week and have already gathered 200 signatures.

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A council spokeswoman said: “Mr Reynolds is trading on a one-month licence.

“The Wednesday market is run in conjunction with London Farmers’ Markets, who have a commitment to ensuring that all produce sold is locally grown and produced. We have received objections regarding the produce sold on Mr Reynolds’ stall and we are in contact with him to try to resolve the situation.’’