MP’s action over Rasen stall eviction

MP Sir Edward Leigh at NatWest Market Rasen EMN-160703-142403001
MP Sir Edward Leigh at NatWest Market Rasen EMN-160703-142403001
  • Council meeting is abandoned as evicted traders refuse to leave ‘closed session’ about their stall

MP Sir Edward Leigh is calling for answers from Market Rasen Town Council over its controversial decision to evict a market trader.

The move comes as the town council abandoned the ‘closed session’ of its monthly meeting on Wednesday (March 2) when evicted traders Bryan Spittlehouse and Jennie North refused to leave.

Mr Spittlehouse and Mrs North, who run North’s fruit and veg stall, were served an eviction notice ordering them to vacate by April 8, amid claims they had repeatedly broken rules.

Sir Edward Leigh’s spokesman Giles McNeil said: “Sir Edward’s constituents have approached him regarding their dispute with Market Rasen Town Council and he has requested further information and evidence from the council regarding the matter.

“This is still awaited at the current time.”

Market Rasen Town Council had been due to ‘consider market letters’ in the closed session of its meeting at Festival Hall.

But traders Mr Spittlehouse and Mrs North - who have sent solicitors letters to the council over the matter - refused to leave the meeting, saying they should be privy to any discussions about themselves.

Mr Spittlehouse said: “They wanted to discuss solicitors letters in a town council meeting which I found very strange.

“We said we’re not leaving. We should be privy to that. You can’t do that.

“They just closed the meeting down and didn’t bother reading them.

“Why would you discuss our solicitors letters in a town council meeting? The councillors aren’t going to give legal advice, they’re not solicitors.

“If they’re talking about us we need to be privy to that. They can’t do that in a little closed session between themselves.”

He added: “They’re not losing their livelihood over it.”

But Market Rasen mayor John Matthew said it was essential that the discussions were held in private - and accused the traders of being ‘difficult’.

Coun Matthews said: “There were three items on the confidential agenda.

“One was the situation with the traders.

“It needs to be under confidential because it affects them.

“It was put on the agenda for those members who don’t get to the office as regularly as others.

“There was no reason for them to be there. They were just being difficult.

“There was no need for it.

“It was minuted why the meeting was abandoned and they’ve been named.

“They can’t do it.”

The town council has sent several disciplinary letters to the traders, dating back to 2012, accusing them of ‘moving council property’, opening the market without ‘correct authorisation’ and ‘unacceptable behaviour’.

But more than 2,300 people have signed a petition calling for the eviction to be revoked.

The traders’ solicitor has written to the council challenging the actions that have been taken.

And Mr Spittlehouse and Mrs North say they have been left baffled by the eviction saying ‘it doesn’t make any sense’.

Coun Matthews said: “These letters of warning are not issued lightly. None of these have been contested or challenged.

“Traders on the Market Place, for which we the council have full liability, must abide by health and safety and code of conduct practices.

“Those traders who fail to abide by the regulations must face a warning or disciplinary hearings. Those who continue to ignore them must accept the consequences.”