As a supportive and considerate employer, Saffron Walden Town Council takes its responsibilities and duty of care to its employees seriously.  In an unprecedented step, the Council feels obliged, through this press release, to publicly denounce harassment, bullying or victimisation of its staff and to set the record straight on a matter regarding Saffron Walden market.

Saffron Walden Town Council prides itself on being an excellent employer and recently signed a national ‘Civility and Respect’ pledge to evidence its commitment to staff welfare.  Sadly, a number of our staff members have been harassed and intimidated by third parties over the past few weeks regarding a legitimate decision reached by Council.

This decision relates to the occupation of a market pitch, where a trader (Country Collectables) has been absent from the market for some considerable time and Council has determined it can no longer hold this pitch vacant indefinitely.  The Council wishes further to correct some relevant facts, and to correct the misinformation and miscommunication that has been issued by some 3rd parties in relation to the trader’s cessation on Saffron Walden Market.

Country Collectables has traded on Saffron Walden market for a number of years and has always been a much loved and respected trader.  Unfortunately, due to ill health, the trader has been absent from the market for some months.  The market terms and conditions of trade (which every trader has previously agreed to) allow an 8-week absence period for any trader and after that time, their pitch will be reallocated.  This is standard industry practice and , in fact, Saffron Walden Town Council grants our market traders a much longer time period than that offered by any comparable market in England.

In April 2023, the Council’s Assets and Services Committee determined to temporarily extend the absence period of 8-weeks to 16-weeks.  In doing so, the Committee actively amended its current policy in this instance and two traders were advised in writing that their pitch space would remain open for a total of 16-weeks but that after this time, the pitch had to be reallocated to meet the needs of the market.  During authorised absence periods, traders are not charged any market rent.

Before the expiry of the 16-week period, one trader was able to return to the market.  The other trader (Country Collectables) was not able to return, and the pitch has therefore been relet.  During the trader’s absence, a number of alternatives were offered to the trader (such as seeking help from others in erecting/working the stall) and it is not known if these opportunities were progressed, but the trader did not attend the market.

On conclusion of the 16-week period and on the reletting of the pitch, a commitment was made by Saffron Walden Town Council to Country Collectables that they would be welcome to apply for a further pitch once well enough to do so; this offer still stands. It is not known when the trader will be well enough to return to the market and the Council cannot hold a pitch over indefinitely.

Saffron Walden Town Council believes that it has acted fairly, justly and equitably in all of its decision making and communications in this matter.  It should not have to enter into further discussion with 3rd parties regarding its decision and affirms its commitment to working with Country Collectables once the trader is well enough to return to the market.  Saffron Walden Town Council respects the opinions of others, but is greatly concerned that some third parties have now resorted to intimidation and harassment of members of our staff, and confirms that it will continue to try to offering staff a respectful workplace.