A Broadstairs Christmas Market sited on Victoria Parade has packed up two days early after being told to close by Public Health (via Kent County Council).
The market, which opened on Thursday, was due to run until tomorrow evening but traders have been closing down their stalls today (December 12) and are expected to be clear from site by lunchtime.
The market is run by Zoom Events which currently hosts approximately 50 events per year, predominantly across the Midlands and South East England.
The business is led by founders Paul and Lesley Kennedy with event formats including Food & Drink Festivals, Craft Beer Festivals, World Village Markets and Christmas Fayres.
The company say they gained the proper permissions from Thanet council and had all covid-secure measures requested in place. A council inspector added a request for track and trace which was introduced immediately.
However, last night they say they were informed Public Health England was ordering the market be closed.
Traders said there had been complaints lodged about the market taking place and another said there had been a lack of customers.
The staging of the market had split local opinion with concerns around covid and the loss of trade to local businesses raised. There were also complaints that the location was too narrow to allow for proper distancing.
Mr Kennedy confirmed Public Health England had advised the market closure with Kent County Council then acting on that requirement.
He added: “It was down to the number of covid cases in the area, they were concerned.
“We were due to go to Deal next week but have taken the decision ourselves to cancel that because rates are increasing.
“We do have other projects and events lined up and do work a lot in Kent. We would like to do more in Thanet and look forward to better times.”
Broadstairs councillor Ruth Bailey added: “I have been to speak to the organisers again this morning. I was told that a complaint, or complaints, had been made by residents directly to Public Health England which had caused the market to be closed. The traders are naturally upset at the enforced closure but the organisers seemed to remain quite philosophical and say they hope to be back next year.
“As a ward councillor I have been disappointed with the lack of information about both the staging and the closing of this event. I know from my mailbag that local residents have been divided on whether this market should have taken place at all and I have spent all week endeavouring to seek more information from TDC.
“I hope that anyone who was planning to attend the market will still come and spend their money in the town, as a reminder, Crofts Place car park is free today and next Saturday in addition to St Peter’s Park Road car park which is free every Saturday.”
Thanet council said the Broadstairs Christmas market has been planned for a considerable time and permission was granted by TDC prior to the last national lockdown, when the area was Tier 1 ‘Medium Alert’.
Prior to permission being granted the organisers were involved in the event safety advisory process working with all statutory agencies regarding the safety of the event.
When Thanet entered Tier 3 ‘very high alert’, the national guidance on outdoor Christmas markets was that they could continue if they are covid compliant.
The organisers were required to provide an updated risk assessment for Kent public health to consider.