Cliftonville Farmers’ Market cancelled ‘until further notice’

Cliftonville Farmers Market Photo John Horton

Cliftonville Farmers’ Market will not take place at The Oval Lawns ‘until further notice’ after it was cancelled by the new site owners who say they have not be provided with required documents .

The freehold for the Oval Bandstand and Lawns in Cliftonville officially transferred to GRASS Cliftonville CIC from the local authority in July.

This means the site and associated buildings are now owned and managed by the not-for-profit social enterprise organisation.

The site has also been the setting for the volunteer-led farmers market which was established by June Chadband and her late husband Keith in September 2001. Next month’s market would have marked its 20th anniversary.

Cliftonville Farmers’ Market Photo John Horton

But GRASS  Cliftonville today said: “It is with great regret” that  they have taken the “difficult decision to cancel the monthly event until further notice.”

GRASS says the problem is a lack of the required information needed to issue a market operator’s licence to organisers Cliftonville Residents Association.

A statement from GRASS says: “As a responsible organisation GRASS Cliftonville CIC requires the market operator, the Cliftonville Residents Association, to meet their statutory obligations for health and safety as required for all farmers’ markets, but to-date they have not provided the information needed to issue a market operator’s license.”

GRASS Cliftonville’s outdoor cinema at The Oval Bandstand. Picture: GRASS

GRASS say their own events adhere to the requirements of the Safety Advisory Group (SAG), which compromises Kent Fire, Environmental Health, and Kent Police, to ensure they are safe, legal, and meet all statutory obligations.

The statement continues: “We are concerned for all the artisan stallholders and producers at the Cliftonville Farmers’ Market who will be financially impacted by the decision to cancel, so we hope the Cliftonville Residents Association can find a way forward so the event can continue at The Oval Lawns.

Stephen Darrer, Director of GRASS Cliftonville CIC, added: “It is with a profound sense of regret that we must announce the cancellation of the monthly Cliftonville Farmers’ Market at The Oval Bandstand and Lawns.

“We know this will bring huge disappointment to those who continue to support the Farmers’ Market, so we are very sad to announce this news. This is definitely not how we would wish to start our tenure as owners of this wonderful historic asset, and it’s very upsetting to everyone at GRASS to think that the market will not be taking place this month.

“However, the safety of the market’s customers and our community is of paramount importance to us, so we must insist that basic health and safety obligations are met.”

However CRA has hit back insisting they do have  all the  documentation required.

June Chadband with her son Matthew and grandsons Callum and Jordan Photo John Horton

June Chadband, CRA co-founder, said: “ We have all the statutory information required to run a farmers’ market as governed by Kent Farmers’ Market Association (KFMA) along with most, if not all of the farmer markets, held in Kent

“They in turn are affiliated to the National Association of Farmers’ Markets and membership requires us to abide by national rules. We have public liability insurance for the market for £10 million and this also covers our volunteers.

“All our stallholders have public liability insurance and those that prepare food have a hygiene rating.

“The new landlords of the Oval Lawns have their own market operator’s licence which requires a copy of the CRA, Cliftonville Residents Association constitution, minutes of the CRA meetings, details of CRA committee members and crucially details of our bank account including the last three months of statements – proof that the market is not making a profit. “It requires me to prove to them that I am undergoing professional development which I take great exception to, having created one of Kent’s most successful markets over the 20 years and winning 9 prestigious awards along the way, six of them for Best Farmers’ Market in Kent.

Photo John Horton

“In addition we have been told not to have stallholders who sell teas, coffees, alcohol and cooked food to eat at the market. This would mean that three of our stallholders would not be allowed to attend.

“The market this year has attracted over 1,000 visitors each month with the May market having 1700 through during the morning. We have followed all strict Government guidelines.

“We gave the Gordon Road Area Street Scheme £500 towards their children’s gift boxes and £1,000 towards their solicitors fees for the asset transfer plus a letter of support from the CRA.

“We really thought that we would be able to work together, with the new landlords, and that the CRA would be able to continue with their market on its home at the Oval Lawns.

“I feel so sorry for the stallholders, who for some, farmers’ markets are their livelihood.

“I am now having to look for a new site in Cliftonville for the market and hope that all our loyal shoppers will continue to give us their support as they have done over the last nearly 20 years.”

Margate councillor Rob Yates, said: “The farmers market in Cliftonville is a great monthly event which brings Margate to life. This used to be managed by TDC as the landlord of the Oval Bandstand, who it appears let the farmers market operate without ensuring that the operator and the vendors had the required public liability insurances and food safety risk assessments.

“The new landlords, GRASS, are keen to maximise the use of the Bandstand and have already done this with the outdoor cinemas, the live bands, and recent Pride event. However, it appears they have noticed that these requirements are missing from the Farmers Market and as a community group which has just taken control of the Oval Bandstand, I fully support their decision to put the farmers market on hold until the required health and safety concerns are in place.”

However Thanet council rebutted the allegation that it let the market run without the required documents, stating officers had ensured all vendors had food hygiene ratings.

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “All food businesses are required to register with the local authority in which they are based. Council officers liaised with the organisers to ensure that all of the vendors they invited were registered and had food hygiene ratings.”

This article has been updated with a response from CRA


  1. GRASS are such a selfish little group. They are only interested in what serves them directly and not the greater community. Disgusting.

      • Why not move market to Harold rd council car park. If you change the markets to Saturday it’s free to park and with shops open will help the market and local businesses. I will happily donate some money to help the move. As in the future markets may be disrupted in the band stand with planned events also. The car park will not be and it has toilets that are open as well.

        • Thank you Simon for your suggestion.
          We have used Harold Road car park in the past, in the winter months, but it did not work out very well.
          I am waiting to hear back about other sites on the front in Cliftonville.
          We will definitely be back, have no fear. Also thank you for the offer of a donation. We have always been self funded but it is nice to know that the market is appreciated for what it gives to the community.

    • Totally agree, I don’t like GRASS… h no regard for local community just their NEW Local Community citizens!

    • Agree with your comment.GRASS are ruining everything around Cliftonville. I am all for migration from London Boroughs if it benefits the community.Sadly this has not happened.GRASS only benefit themselves and their cruffin- eating AIR B&B grabbing hipster cronies who look down on locals and drive property prices up and up.

    • I imagine it’s because grass will have a bar on-site which will be in direct competition. Feels like grass are throwing their weight around here and if you believe in karma then I’m sure the right thing will happen ultimately. I hope that the farmers market find an even better site. Good luck!

      • Thank you Jen from all the market volunteers at Cliftonville Farmers’ Market. It is such a shame that we wont be celebrating it’s ’20th
        anniversary on the Oval Lawns in September

  2. Threatening an injunction to stop a 20 year institution of Cliftonville! What happened to talking? Or is the plan to deal with everyone in the same way? I got blocked when I asked for an update on GRASS finances, despite being one of many community donors. What gives? I cannot help feel money, not safety, is behind this disastrous move.

    • I have no idea about the petty squabbling regarding people’s proposed events being discussed here, but it appears that TDC have been letting this event go on without the proper documentation for years. This GRASS lot would it appear be legally liable like TDC apparently have been if they allowed this event to continue & somebody became ill or died from food poisoning, or any of the other safety issues covered by the SAG.

      Do you honestly think it is GRASS just being a killjoy for them not to operate in such a shoddy manner as TDC seemingly have been for the last six years since SAG became a thing & that they should just flout the laws & accept liability if anything goes wrong?

      • Don’t be daft – of course all food hygiene certificates are in place, as are risk assessments and public liability insurance for individual stallholders and to the tune of £10million for the CRA. This is about ther GRASS licence – they want the CRA constitution, membership and bank statements as part of their requirements. WHY?
        They want to ban all food and drink producers from selling anything which can be consumed at the market – WHY ?

  3. It gets worse:
    “GRASS say their own events adhere to the requirements of the Safety Advisory Group (SAG), which *compromises* Kent Fire, Environmental Health, and Kent Police …”

    • GRASS say their own events adhere to the requirements of the Safety Advisory Group (SAG), which compromises Kent Fire, Environmental Health, and Kent Police, to ensure they are safe, legal, and meet all statutory obligations.

      How come GRASS can get insurance for their events when it compromises what the kent police, kent fire and the environmental health recommend ?

      Am I missing something here ?

      Surely no insurance company would cover an event that wasnt inline with those safety bodies ?

      This seems very odd, either TDC hasnt been running the event legally in the pasted or GRASS are just finding away to not run it.

      I think when our assists are handed over to ‘community’ there needs to be in the contract that community events that have been held there for years must carry on. If it’s all legal etc.

      • We thought so too!!!!
        We certainly wouldn’t have contributed £1500 to GRASS if we had known this would be the result!

        • I Bet you wouldn’t, quick to take the money, even quicker to find fault with no open hand to remedy the insurance situation

    • Its a GRASS red-herring! Here are the relevant SAG guidlines
      SAGs provide a forum for discussing and advising on public safety at an event. They aim to help organisers with the planning, and management of an event and to encourage cooperation and coordination between all relevant agencies

      The guiding principle is that events presenting a significant public safety risk (whether in terms of numbers and profile of people attending, or the nature of the event activity and/or the challenge of the environment) should be considered. However, lower risk events like community village fetes and funfairs are unlikely to require a SAG.

  4. Run no problems for 20 years..GRASS are the problem. Call themselves a community group. When we asked to be included in GRASS as Harold Rd we were told we were not in their catchment but they then take over the lawns at the bottom of Harold Rd…..DFLs running ruffshod over locals

    • Yet you would be the first one bleating if there was food poisoning deaths or illness or some other hazard at this event & GRASS has signed off on it without the proper documentation & guarantees from the FM-as it appears TDC have been doing for years-the sort of thing that can bankrupt a council in legal damages.

      These regulations are there for a reason-to protect the public, if the FM cannot meet them then they have no business running it & haven’t had since the SAG apparently came into being in 2015.

    • It appears the way you say .
      How is it possible ? that a quick remedy to any insurance details are beyond the capabilities and capacity of an organisation whom are however capable of capturing Thanet publics property.

    • If they have the correct paperwork then rightly so. If FM & TDC have been doing this knowingly for the last six years then that is a potential lawsuit waiting to happen & it is amazing that doesn’t seem to bother anybody here-more intent on grumbling about rules & regulations that exist for your own protection & the usual petty squabbling, bitterness & childish jealousy that your proposed events got turned down for whatever reason.

          • I get the distinct impression that you are the spokesperson for GRASS by the tone of your questions. The market people have already said they will not
            give their residents group bank details to obtain a licence from Grass.
            I dont blame them It is none of that groups business. I wonder what they will get you to say next.

        • This is outrageous news.
          Market operators gives sight of insurance cover policy , yet are shown the door, yet not shown cohesion and reasonable rapid remedy,
          Can it be possible that removing monthly retail of beverages is the energy, struggle to believe that , yet aware of attitudes by groups similar that make such disastrous moves , so maybe can believe , shocked

      • Steve please get your facts straight.
        You really do not know what you are talking about with regards to this issue.

  5. As one of 30 plus stallholders we are very disappointed in its cancellation. The market has run for 20 years without any problems. The way things are at the moment this will hit our business hard so Thank you Grass!! CRA works for the community its a shame you DON’T!!

    • Totally sympathetic to this situation,
      Nobody hurt in double decades,
      Besides the 30 East Kent local market traders booted off ,most certainly hurt .
      Thirty broken hearted local people, knocked out by this news
      Plus hundreds of attending public also damaged and hurt

  6. They are unbelieveable!
    Do they know what the word community means, obviously not.
    The market and the concerts the CRA used to put on are the best events we have ever had in Cliftonville.
    I hope the market organisers find a new site soon as I love Cliftonville
    Farmers Market

    • This is absolutely not true. We always worked very closely with TDC with all the events we held on the site adhereing to all their regulations and we never had any problems until after July 8th. Before you make scathing attacks on the running of our market STEVE please do your homework.

      • I can absolutely concur with June’s statement on the close working with TDC. Throughout my years as a District councillor i saw at first hand how much good work was done by Cliftonville Association. They were very thorough in all that they did . Let’s hope any outstanding issues are soon resolved .

  7. What a pity Cllr.Yates didn’t bother to check a few facts before rushing into print. For the past 20 years the Residents run Farmers market has been affiliated to the Kent Farmers market, and, in common with other markets in Kent, operates within all statutory regulations – including,of course, public liability insurance. All stallholders also carry their own insurance, and have food hygiene certificates as required. These were all supplied to GRASS prior to the last market (with only 10 days notice) or that would not have been allowed to go ahead. The regulations which GRASS are referring to are the 20 something pages of their own Market policy – including the necessity to supply them with the residents association constitution, membership details and bank accounts and a ban on any stall selling food or drink which can be consumed at the market. The residents association can see no valid reason to supply these details, nor the requirement for an additional market licence, hence the current impasse.
    The Farmers market has been the single most successful event in Cliftonville for a number of years, enjoying close co-operation from TDc and attracting well in excess of 1000 each Sunday; we are devasted to be letting down, through no fault of ours, the people of Cliftonville and our loyal stallholders.

    • So basically you are not submitting what they require? That is your decision & therefore they will not allow you to run any longer-what is the issue? It is in your hands to do as required by them.

  8. Am I missing something..A Thanet council spokesperson said: “All food businesses are required to register with the local authority in which they are based. Council officers liaised with the organisers to ensure that all of the vendors they invited were registered and had food hygiene ratings.”. Case closed they all complied

  9. The only things really worth visiting in Cliftonville are the Farmer’s Market and The Winter Gardens, yet they’re both in danger of shutting down!!

  10. There are literally hundreds of people that depend upon Cliftonville’s monthly Farmers Market, both buyers and sellers. It is an institution that has safely delivered pleasure and products to our community for 20 years. I sense it suits GRASS to discredit the common-sense of the past that we have all benefitted from. I am sure the stall holders and CRA are highly compliant with current regulations, especially as the former operate in multiple locations. That it suits GRASS to not continue the Farmers Market as we all know it, and to not assist in filling any compliance gap, if any do really exist(!?), is a stark warning of what may be to follow. I expect each of the stall holders will find themselves negotiating directly with GRASS for their pitch, and having to give away a share of their income that they never had to before. Divide and conquer is the established practice of those who “got rich in Thanet”. We are losing probably our last remaining community asset and giving way to nothing but paper money.

  11. As abussines attending the market for 15yrs and trading for over 27, its a big shame that this has occurred, Steve shut up you don’t know what you’re talking about. Go get your food from a 1 star takeaway! Show me another kent market that can attract over 1700 visitors! Kfma has strict guidelines that are followed and having attend and organised many events in Kent incl part of oyster Festival, Trust me the council would not let events happen if it wasnt correctly regulated. Its a big shame and really feel for June and all the wonderful volunteers that make it happen. We wish them all the best in finding a new venue soon, in the meantime we are still doing free delivery to the whole of thanet, email [email protected] for details.

    • I cook my own food thanks & don’t eat such garbage as Takeaways-having seen how most of them run on the food/health inspectors show from years back I am amazed anybody eats from such places-you might as well eat from a latrine, in fact it would be probably be less likely to make you ill.

      It really is irrelevant how many people it draws, how long it has run, or how much your head is up it’s rear end & how much you use this to plug your own business free-they haven’t supplied all the required paperwork, as admitted by the person running it right here & so they cannot run it at that location any longer-they will have to run it elsewhere where less paperwork is required or hand it over. What is the issue?

  12. Nail on the head there Peter! Our stall holders pay £15 per pitch -£20 if we supply the gazebo as the cost of replacements is prohibitive and we need a little income to cover that
    GRASS we’re proposing to charge us £10 for every stall – and for what? The effort they planned to put in?

  13. It’s an absolute disgrace that the market has had to stop. Had the new owners not taken over then it would have continued with tdc perfectly happy to allow it as they have the last 20 years!?!
    Just wait, ‘Grass’ will be starting a market of their own before long! They just don’t like anyone else using their land, regardless of the impact it has on the community or local business. I for one will be boycotting any event run by this company.

  14. To cancel the market so close to the Bank Holiday is spiteful and not what you would expect from a CIC, June and her team have worked damn hard for nearly two decades to make it what it is and do not deserve to be treated like this. The suggestion that traders may be working without the correct PLI/food hygiene certs. is a cheap distraction as we were all asked to produce them before being invited to join.

  15. Do we know whether GRASS’s lease prevents them selling what was until recently our land, for housing development? We’re presently offering a sweetener of £4m to the next buyer of Dreamland, which is due to be routinely flooded by the climate emergency, so why shouldn’t we also be gifting £0.5m to The Oval’s housing developer?

  16. The answer to this is to setup another farmers market on adjacent land on same day ,and everyone boycotts the other one ! Then it won’t last long !

  17. This is what happens when TDC give away land to a private residents association. The new broom sweeps clean so to speak and that is what they are doing.
    June should ask TDC for the use of the patch further along the promenade and carry on in either direction then carry on with the market there. It is too good to be swept away with new rules that don’t really mean anything. The market has been a swinging success for 20 years, TDC don’t let it die !

  18. June I hope you find somewhere ASAP (or that GRASS sees sense and allows the market to go ahead without charging £10 per stall) and thank you for all your work in making the farmers market such a success.
    I don’t understand why they require your bank details Or why they want the event to not sell food / drinks that are to be consumed on site. All markets have tea/coffee sellers.
    I also hope GRASS now doesn’t put its own market onsite, that would be an absolute travesty.
    I am a dfl and I am very upset that they are doing this.
    Note to some of those who have posted comments: Not all dfls are onboard or responsible for actions by other dfls

    • Who are these bully boys, I am totally amazed that the Oval grass can be owned like this, it belongs to Cliftonville.
      What next a fence all round.
      Middle class DFLs meddling with people’s lives, they need to get a life and leave us alone. Just a new form of empire, I suppose they think they know best how to help us poor, stoopid (sic) folks. Who is up for a sit in on the bandstand tomorrow to stop the concert.?

  19. Birchington are having a market on Dog Acre tomorrow (near the station). I know it’s not Cliftonville, but perhaps another site to consider?

  20. I love the Farmer’s Market I have been involved with the Market for about 10years. All these grass people think about is profit they don’t care about the Cliftonville public. They are also mean spirited not to let the Market go on for the bank holiday. Keith and June started the Farmer’s Market for the people of Cliftonville and the Band Concerts. People came from all over Thanet and further.

  21. This is appalling and a real shame. As a stall holder I can say that we all leapt to action making sure all the paperwork they requested was up to standard! Margate community obviously means nothing to GRASS and I know that June will not let this keep her down.

    • I wont, I have three lovely sites in the pipeline and we will be able to continue our legally operated market without all the demands and deadlines including stress that the new
      landlords have put us through.

  22. What a terrible thing to have done to June and all her lovely volunteers, stall holders and visitors, no compassion for the situation at all. I’m sure the market will end up being even better than it was in its new home x

  23. Could somebody tell me why TDC gave away the freehold to these people? This doesn’t make any sense. How can a council give away assets to an organisation like this?

  24. I am a stall holder and have been coming to the farmers market for 8 years. I have supplied my certificates to the organisers and the market has always been expertly run (even during a global pandemic). June and her team (many volunteers) have gone above the call of duty just to keep this market going for all these years.
    June and her late husband, Keith, had a passion 20 years ago to bring fresh local produce right into the heart of the community, a passion that had continued until this day
    I love chatting to all my customers and they very much appreciate everything June has achieved over the years. This is an amazing monthly event, which has many certificates and awards to prove it.
    I find it incomprehensible that a “community” based organisation would want to be so obtrusive and threaten legal action against this community based project.
    If anyone can help, please get in touch.

    • Well said Emma!
      All our paperwork is supplied before we attend any event. June and everyone CRA have been a massive support to our business over the years. I know the customers I had to contact yesterday to cancel their orders (for the 29th) was shocked at the way June and the volunteers have been treated.
      Like you say Emma if anyone can help please get in touch.

      • Well said to you both. I visit both your stalls to buy from you.
        It was marvellous the way June and the team greeted everybody with a squirt of hand sanitiser, offering masks to those without explainingg the route around the barriers, everything safely run. I cannot understand the almost spiteful way this group has gone about it. Why did they not just embrace a lovely established commumity event on THEIR lawns.

      • Thank you Emma, Real Deal Roasters and Daran, Stour Valley Game for your kind words. You both are part of a really great group of stallholders at the market. We are so lucky to have you both.
        Like you I cannot understand what is going on. The chairman of GRASS contacted most of the stallholders before the July market, without letting the market manager know of his intentions. The stallholders then contacted me to find out if they GRASS were now going to be running the mmarket. As usual, with anything associated with that group I was speechless!
        When I received the solicitors letter on Friday morning by special delivery saying we were trespassing on their land as we were unlicenced, once again I was speechless and so very hurt that a so called community group could do this to another.
        I feel sorry for the stallholders who will be losing their sales and the loyal shoppers who come no matter what the weather throws at us.
        I will do my utmost to find a new site, hopefully for our ’20th’ in September. when we can celebrate with all our lovely stallholders and loyal customers.
        I would also like to thank you all for your support on here. I have had so
        many phone calls and emails offering their support.

  25. I for one will be targeting all of GRASS’ upcoming events. One decibel over the legal requirements and I will be submitting a formal noise complaint. They’ve dumped ton bags of crap on the pavement on Eastern Esplanade which have been there for months. I’ve just reported this to the council. If that’s how they want to play it, let the games begin!!

    • Sit in on the bandstand on concert days…trespass civil offence so can’t involve police. Can’t remove you without commiting an assault.

    • “ a major advantage of a CIC is that their directors can be paid a salary but it should never be more than is reasonable and always transparent”
      Thanks google – and James for an interesting question

  26. I think chaps it is time to turn off this debate now, we are almost at 100 comments so I think it has been properly aired.

  27. Why did TDC give away land to a private residents association?
    June should ask TDC for use of land near the current location and continue the farmers market. The market has been a great success for many years, TDC help them out.

    The correspondence from the solictors in Canterbury, clearly denounces any attempt by GRASS to improve the quality of life for residents in Cliftonville as stated on their website.
    However could such a letter be drafted let alone sent from one community driving organisation to another hugely beneficial local organisation, in such a tone as this letter, with threats of court action.
    This action is in total contradiction to what GRASS apparently wants to achieve and the toxic tone of the letter shameful from one organisation and the solicitor, who ought to have advised his clients to be community spirited in this decision.
    The Cliftonville Farmers Market is hugely successful & highly acclaimed throughout the County having been started some 20 years ago
    It has won Produced in Kent awards four times and many other awards & promoted Cliftonville well.
    This is not a decision for the betterment of the community, rather a destroyer of it.
    Run purely by volunteers & so enjoyed by many of the local resident seniors who see it as their monthly meeting place.
    GRASS alongside the solicitors have shown shameful behaviour running roughshod alongside a community residents organisation who were beneficial when the F.M donated £1500 to GRASS, possibly helping them to acquire the site.
    And I thought charity began at home.
    Although GRASS announces with deep regret of it’s loss…..
    This is nonsense.
    Who’s kidding who here?
    Just bureaucratic GRASS nonsense!!!

    Richard Ovenden, veg farmer stallholder for the 20 years

    • Richard, having seen the PLI alleged to not exist, and today seen the appalling letter, I totally agree with you. This cannot be allowed to stand and the community must work together to fix this huge failure.

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