Row over pub bid to host farmers’ markets

WHEN brewery bosses hatched a plan to hold a farmers’ market in the car park of Morningside’s Merlin pub, it must have seemed like a 
magical idea.

But the potentially trade-boosting plan has conjured up a storm of protest from residents and rival business owners alike.

The common complaint is the monthly market – which will have 20 stalls – will create traffic chaos.

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But brewery bosses have hit back, saying they believe the exciting plan will benefit the whole community.

Resident David Glass, 70, whose home backs on to the car park, has started a petition against the plans and claims the market could pose a fire risk.

He said: “Everyone is up in arms about this. My main concern is the parking issue – I can’t get my car parked in Morningside as it is, and if there’s an influx of people going to the market it’s going to be an utter disaster.

“They are going to have stalls right at the entrance to the Merlin. What if – God forbid – there’s a fire? I’m not sure an appliance would be able to get past.”

Mr Glass said around 30 businesses had signed up to a list of objectors to the plans, which could see organic fare and delicacies sold.

Furzanah Chaudhry, owner of the family-run Harvest Garden Chocolatier and Florist, said: “It’s going to make the area really congested.

“The market isn’t good for business because all the parking spaces are going to be taken up and we’re the ones paying extortionate rates.

“I can’t understand why the council would agree to this, especially if the markets are going to be held on Saturday.

“That’s when we try to catch up with business when the parking restrictions are off.

“Morningside used to be quite exclusive and this open-air market is going to bring down the tone of the area.”

Tracy Somerville, general manager of Morningside coffee shop Loopy Lorna’s, believes already struggling businesses could struggle in the face of fresh competition.

She said: “Things could go two ways if the plans go ahead. It will be additional competition for shops. On one other hand it could bring extra business on the area, but I would think it would be best if it didn’t happen. So many businesses are struggling and we see them closing down every week.”

A planning application for the market is set to be considered by the council.

A Belhaven spokesman said: “With the support of the Morningside Traders Association we have applied to hold a monthly open-air market in the Merlin pub car park for local traders, in association with MarketCraft Farmers Market. We hope the market will benefit the whole community.”