AN EVENTS organiser has spoken of her anger after Rotherham Council banned her outdoor summer market — organised to help traders get back on their feet — with days to spare.
Lawyer Nicola Smith saw three weeks of hard work go to waste when the council put the brakes on the Rotherham Summer Market at Millmoor on Sunday.
The event, due to have 90 stallholders, was cancelled with nine days’ notice despite Nicola putting extensive measures in place to make the event Covid safe.
“We wanted to put Rotherham back on the map,” said Nicola, of Kimberworth.
“We had hand sanitisers and masks. You can get 250 stalls on the pitch but we went for 90 to make sure the exhibitors could stay spaced out.
“Every conceivable thing had been put in place to make sure it was a safe event.”
Nicola first contacted the council on August 1, and when they did not object to the event, she spent weeks booking traders for the market, which was aimed at helping out small businesses after a torrid year.
Nicola sent her risk assessment to the council on August 12 and extra information about Covid risks on August 20.
She said she had also got the go-ahead from police during the first week of August.
“South Yorkshire Police licensing rang me to make sure I had Covid measures in place,” said Nicola.
“The lady I spoke to said I had gone over and above and was very happy.”
But the event was scuppered on Friday when Nicola was told by the council that due to the Covid infection rate in Rotherham her event could not take place.
She claimed the council had told her there was a blanket ban on all events in Rotherham until the end of September — but RMBC has blamed the cancellation on the risk assessment.
“We have had banners up at the ground and posters up in shops and we worked 18-hour days every week,” said Nicola, who runs event management firm You Said Yes.
“Personally I have spent about £900 on gazebos, which can be used for future events, but it’s the lost time and effort.”
The event had been set to include stallholders from as far as Leicester selling arts and crafts, food and handmade items.
A council spokesperson said: “There is currently no blanket ban on markets, however the way the council is granting permission for outdoor markets has changed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“To ensure the safety of visitors and traders, we expect a full and comprehensive risk assessment which is subject to a high level of scrutiny so that the council is confident social distancing and safe trading can go ahead.
“In this circumstance, the organisers submitted the application form and risk assessment on August 12 for the market to take place on August 30.
“Following the review, the council was not satisfied that the risk assessment provided all the necessary information and reassurances for the market to go ahead safely, which is why permission was not granted.
“We are working with the market organiser and are reviewing this process to avoid this situation occurring again the future.”
Nicola is hoping to reschedule the event to Sunday, October 25.