23 June 2000
French move in on farmers’ market

By FWi staff

A REGIONAL food group has slammed a council decision to hold a French market days after the launch of a hard-won local farmers market.

More than 30 Sussex producers will set up their stalls in Haywards Heath on 30 June for the first farmers market in Mid-Sussex.

But A Taste of the South East, which for years lobbied Mid-Sussex District Council to set up the market, was amazed to discover that a French market will arrive in town a week later.

The three-day Gallic bonanza which local producers must compete with is part of an annual week-long festival organised in the town.

A Taste of the South East says public money should not be used to promote the sale of foreign goods, especially when France illegally refuses to accept British beef.

Its chairman Jerry Gosney said: “It seems disingenuous of local councils to be on one hand encouraging local food producers, while on the other using public money to promote sales of foreign food and drink on their very doorstep.”

“The fact that it is a French market at a time when British farmers are fighting for their right to sell their beef there rubs salt into the wound.”

However, it is unclear which council is responsible for the French festival.

Mid-Sussex District Council said its only involvement was in a statutory role giving Haywards Heath Town Council permission for the market to go ahead.

But Haywards Heath Town Council said its only role was organising publicity and that the event was the district councils idea.

Earlier this week National Farmers Union president Ben Gill said it was “indefensible” to promote French markets in Britain while France bans British beef.