Back in the first pandemic lockdown of 2020, Bristol City Council decided that for the small traders in and around St. Nick’s Market, “all fees would be payable” – despite the fact that they would be unable to generate any income for almost another year.
The fees included not only rent, but also electricity charges, cleaning and maintenance of toilet areas etc, despite the fact that for the period the Markets were locked and empty 24/7. As is often the case, it is difficult to track down exactly who was responsible for this divine proclamation from on high, but the familiar names of current/former BCC career bureaucrats like Mike Jackson, Stephen Peacock, Jacqui Jensen and old friend of The BRISTOLIAN, Richard Fear, cropped up in our investigation.
An appeal was launched and apparently a trader meeting was held with some of these individuals in December 2020, but no progress was made – the fees were still “payable” and that was that. Fear was presented with evidence that many other English councils were supporting traders and not charging them for the space – in fact the vast majority – but for Fear, Bristol was resolutely determined to join the minority of refusing/indifferent councils in a “Lockdown Hall of Shame”.
Under pressure, he conceded he would consult with other “core cities” and give traders a concluding reply by January 2021, but nothing was received. Tucking this achievement into his glorious record, Fear next waltzed off from BCC in April ‘21 into some other high-paying bullshit management job somewhere else.
Good fucking riddance!