French market raises ghost of racism

A VISITING French market that recently split the opinion of a town is set to make a controversial return.Councillors in Sudbury have decided to invite the travelling market back to the town despite being left "ashamed" and "embarrassed" when the French traders suffered a torrent of racist and offensive comments from a minority of shoppers during their first visit.

A VISITING French market that recently split the opinion of a town is set to make a controversial return.

Councillors in Sudbury have decided to invite the travelling market back to the town despite being left "ashamed" and "embarrassed" when the French traders suffered a torrent of racist and offensive comments from a minority of shoppers during their first visit.

The market, known as La France Chez Vous, arrived in Sudbury for a four-day stay in April. Almost immediately after their arrival several shoppers aimed anti-French slogans towards the traders.

Some where outraged by France's lack of support towards the invasion on Iraq and others still held a grudge over their ban on British beef. Others simply felt more effort should be put into helping local traders rather than outsiders.


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Shopkeepers in North Street, where the market was situated, claim it blocked entrances to their outlets and took away their passing trade, some claimed their takings were down by 40%. Stallholders on the town's traditional two-day market also claimed their trade was badly hit.

Despite the criticism a town council survey showed that many people were attracted to the town during the French market and many traders outside of North Street wanted to see it return. Several members of the public have hailed the market as a success and would welcome it back with open arms.

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This week councillors voted to invite the market back to Sudbury for four days in October. Deputy town clerk Ian Clark said: "There was a lot of support for the market last time it came and the racist behaviour only came from a minority.

"On the whole the council feel the French market was a success and it should not be prevented from coming back because the voice of a minority.

The market will be held from October 9 to October 12 and North Street is again likely to stage the event.

The decision has left some traders concerned and meeting is being held next week between North Street traders, the Chamber of Commerce and town hall staff.

Peter Cockett, who is representing the North Street traders at the meeting, said: "We are concerned because many businesses were adversely affected by the street closure last time."

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