Bury St Edmunds 4 Black Lives launches petition after charity market stall 'shock'
A group which promotes racial equality campaigning for a market stall has been told it could be accommodated elsewhere in Bury St Edmunds town centre.
Bury St Edmunds 4 Black Lives (BSE4BL) says it was told by West Suffolk Council it could not have a ‘charity’ stall on the market because it ‘couldn’t support a stall that had promotional views and petitions’ and that the market was for ‘a shopping experience’.
However, the council says the refusal was on the grounds the stall did not meet the regulations drawn up by the traders themselves. A spokesman said a stand could be accommodated elsewhere in the town centre if BSE4BL liaised with its licensing team.
Evelyn Polk, of BSE4BL, said the initial refusal was a shock.
“It seems they are tending to think we have political views when we just want to reach out to the community. We are an organisation that promotes equal opportunities. Reaching out to the public on the market was something we wanted to do,” she said.
“Alarm bells are ringing for me – what’s the underlying reason they don’t want us there? What are they afraid of? We just want to promote equal opportunities.”
Evelyn said the response to the group's change.org petition – calling for approval for a black lives matter market stall in Bury – had been ‘very, very positive’.
“Some people have been shocked, but others have not been shocked because Bury is such a conservative town,” said Evelyn.
While still hoping to be allowed a market stall, BSE4BL is planning other awareness-raising events, including an online-based protest at the start of next year and, when restrictions allow, a secure event with speakers and forums.
“It is about having a dialogue with people and starting that conversation about race,” added Evelyn.
A spokesman for West Suffolk Council said: “From the first time the group contacted us we have been very willing to provide help and advice so they can have a stall in Bury to engage with the public.
"We have repeatedly asked the group to contact our licensing team, which is responsible for helping groups do this and is our normal procedure.
"The market licence regulations, drawn up and supported by market traders as well as the council, sets out the market is primarily a place for selling goods and provisions. That said we, through our licensing team, are more than happy to help find another suitable spot and time and have already provided the group with the contact details and where to find more information.”