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Wednesday
May022018

Trouble at market

According to a BBC report yesterday:

Sugary drinks have been barred from sale at Barnsley Council in a bid to make the town a "sugar-free borough".

As well as cutting out full-sugar drinks from sale and removing vending machines from council buildings, the cafe at the council's Westgate Plaza headquarters now gives a calorific value on its sandwiches, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The council is working with prospective tenants of the new Market Food Hall, which is currently under construction, with the aim of introducing similar labels.

See Barnsley bans sugary drinks in 'sugar-free borough' bid (BBC News).

By coincidence, when the story appeared online I was addressing another Barnsley Council initiative. In November last year the Barnsley Chronicle reported:

Radical measures to stop market traders selling smoking materials are being introduced by the council as it pushes ahead with its plans to eradicate smoking from the town.

It is part of an ambitious plan to make Barnsley home to the first smoke-free market in the country.

Stall holders had previously been told the council wanted to build on the success of voluntary smoke-free zones in other parts of the borough by extending the ‘ban’ to outside areas around the market.

In January the paper reported:

A ban on selling smoking products which has been slapped on market traders will be rolled out across the whole of the [new] £130m Glass Works development.

Councillor Roy Miller told the paper he wanted families and children to enjoy a smoke-free town and market:

"The council supports the market traders and independent retailers who are at the heart of Barnsley’s unique shopping experience.

"We have provided a suitable amount of time for existing traders to phase out their current stock of smoking related products and to adapt their product lines so they can continue to thrive in the town centre.

"We want families, especially children, to be able to enjoy our town and market area without smoking being present. As well as the benefits to health, we also hope to see a reduction in cigarette litter in the area, which looks unpleasant and is costly to clean up."

I've come to this story late but yesterday I spoke to the vice-president of the Barnsley branch of the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF). He confirmed that, for now, the new policy affects only market traders, which smacks of discrimination.

He also told me that for one trader smoking accessories represent her entire business. For others, in Barnsley and outlying areas, they provide regular and useful income. This policy threatens their survival.

I'm told that the party in control of Barnsley Council never changes (it's a Labour stronghold) so protests, including a petition, have been ignored.

The traders won't give up however and Freedom of Information requests have revealed some interesting information.

Watch this space.

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Reader Comments (4)

Shocking bigotry. Miller sounds like a contender for the Bully of the Year Award.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 12:21 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

...because children are the shoppers to boost Barnsley's economy (rolling eyes). How marvellous it would be if, in protest, no-one offered to take the vacated smoking accessories stall and smokers deserted the charms of Barnsley town centre - and got together to make it clear to the councillors why their custom was about to be withdrawn.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 21:18 | Unregistered CommenterJay

I've just had a virtual saunter round Barnsley town centre courtesy of Google Maps - it was deserted on the day that Google took its photos! Perhaps the councillors are working on the ASH principle that all the non-smokers have been driven away by the nasty smokers and will flood the town centre when it becomes SmokeFree....

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 21:25 | Unregistered CommenterJay

This repressive smoking ban is outright persecution of smokers. Tobacco is legal (and should remain so), there is virtually no risk it others from second hand smoke--especially outdoors. This campaign of denormalizing smokers (they say smoking but the underlying hate is directed at smokers) is wrong on all levels.

Beyond that, this is a classic example of the hypocrisy of antismokers considering the Barnsley Council invests in tobacco sticks to sustain its pension funds. See "Council accused of hypocrisy over tobacco investments while promoting 'smoke free' town" at the Star: https://www.thestar.co.uk/sport/football/barnsley-fc/council-accused-of-hypocrisy-over-tobacco-investments-while-promoting-smoke-free-town-1-9146245

More importantly, it is imperative that this illiberal measure (which appears to be opposed by many including the vendors in the market) is strongly resisted. The endless march to a 'smoke-free' world is a totalitarian project that results in societal division and the persecution of 20-25% of the population must come to an end.

Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 2:54 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

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