We admit to being a bit behind the game when it comes to the issue of the Colchester Market traders and the impending rent increase caused by the move back to the High Street.
Apologies – election issues have been getting on top of us of late.
Time to address this.
Which is pretty much what Cllr Will Quince, the Conservative candidate for Colchester at the General Election has been doing.
Cllr Quince has today sent a letter to Mr Mayor, basically asking for an EGM of Full Council to discuss the issue of the market.
Cllr Quince states:
“I am writing to formally request that you convene an extraordinary meeting of the Council in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of the 12th schedule to the Local Government Act 1972 (meeting called by the Mayor). The purpose of the meeting will be to debate the following motion.
(1) The Council informs Cabinet of its concern that, in formulating the Strategic Plan Delivery for the Borough, and in particular the plan for the relocation of the Charter Market, the interests of the existing licenced street traders have not been given due weight.
(2) The Council Procedure Rule 11(2) be suspended to allow debate by Council.”
The political timeline is key here. CBC has effectively shut down ahead of the elections. We’re not sure exactly when purdah kicks in, but we’re pretty close to it.
What Cllr Quince is basically asking is for a Full Council to be assembled to debate a motion that will back the market traders.
A petition will be handed in to Cabinet next Wednesday containing over 5,000 signatures backing the traders. The CBC Standing Orders state that 1,800 signatures are needed to trigger a debate at the next Full Council.
But without a Full Council in the CBC diary until after 7May, Cllr Quince is now calling for the EGM.
The letter has been signed by the Prettygate Set of Cllr Beverly Davies and Cllr Pauline Hazell, as well as current Conservative Group Leader Cllr Dennis Willetts and former Leader Cllr Kevin Bentley.
Cllr Quince won’t mind us reminding folk that all local politicians are highly charged right now. This is what usually happens ahead of a Local and General Election.
This isn’t a clear cut case though of the Colchester Conservatives trying to gain political capital out of the situation.
We’re pretty sure that Cllr Quince would have called the EGM, with or without the looming elections, such is the strong feeling of the market traders situation.
Plus there is an awful lot more political intrigue involving this story. We are *ahem* hopeful of being able to tell you more next week.
If you are going to politicise anything then we can think of no better cause to kick up a fuss over than the local economy.
The livelihoods of local traders is far more worthy than firstsite, or the ‘benefit tourism’ that so spectacularly backfired on Cllr Willets.
As for the outcome?
That’s down to Mr Mayor and his guidance from Legal Officer Andrew Weavers.
If Cllr Quince’s motion makes it to Full Council before 7 May then we’d wager heavily that it will go through.
The back bench Love Me I’m a Liberal Lot and the Comrades of the Colchester Labour party won’t want to be seen as not supporting the local market traders so close to a local election.
Localism – there’s life left in it yet.