Saturday, 3 November 2012

In which North Lincolnshire Council bans shouting in Scunthorpe Market...mad!

The "one pound fish" man is something of a market legend but the idea that traders call out their offers is as old as markets.

But over in Scunthorpe local council officers have sensitive ears. That calling out is now to be curtailed because apparently it is bad for us: 

...strict rules on 'calling off' detailed in a council traders' charter have led to a greengrocer being taken to court, banned from his market for three months and hit with a £980 legal bill. Simon Stanley's offence was to shout out his prices at his indoor market stall.

Apparently North Lincolnshire Council has been bunging out fines and warnings to traders because calling out might upset other traders! The offending charter can be read here - all I can find relating to calling out is this:

You (and your employees) must not:

  • Engage in any banter with shoppers and colleagues that causes a nuisance or annoyance to other traders

There are no specific regulations regarding the pitching of prices or offers and it appears that enforcement is entirely at the discretion of Council Officers. The reports suggest that there are specific rules relating to individual markets but these are not available on the Council's website.

Unfortunately, North Lincolnshire Council have chosen not to explain their policies and the manner of their enforcement. The reports from traders appear to be that jobsworthiness has taken over from good management but this might just be the innate grumpiness of the market trader. If it isn't, perhaps the Council should apply the spirit of its Charter and work with traders rather than treating them as a management annoyance.


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