Angry traders say they’ve been charged hundreds to run stalls at Faversham Hop Festival
Faversham shopkeepers have slammed the Hop Festival Committee for charging traders more than £500 to have stalls outside their own premises during the festivities - which start today.
Traders were then left confused when the committee appeared to change its mind and say it had only ever asked for voluntary donations.
Paul Cumberland, who used to co-own wildlife art shop Birds Birds Birds in Preston Street and still owns Faversham Fudge, is refusing to take part in this year’s Hop Festival after having to pay £200 to trade on four metres of pavement outside his shop last year.
Morris dancers are an integral part of the Hop Festival
He also claimed a Thanet company that wanted a stall selling biscuits this year had been told it must pay £550 for the privilege.
“If they do well I think it would be fair enough to ask them to make a donation to the festival, but we are being told we need to pay and purchase a townMr Cumberland, who was a member of the organising committee for 18 years before quitting three years ago, said: “Shops should have the right to trade outside their own premises without paying.
“The committee is acting like it has carte blanche right over the town.” traders’ pack from the committee.
Hop Festival director John Turner said the committee had never asked shop owners to pay for stalls outside their businesses.
Businessman Paul Cumberland is refusing to take part this year
He said: “Mr Cumberland, I believe, has got his facts wrong or is simply confused.
“The idea that the committee charges, or could charge, shop owners to have stalls outside their shops, sometimes up to £500, is nonsense and simply scaremongering from an individual who no longer has a shop in the town and is actually a share-holding member of the Faversham Hop Festival Company.”
However, an email sent to one shop owner, from a Hop Festival email address, said: “In order for you to have a stall outside your shop you need a town traders pack and there will be a charge for this.wners to have stalls outside their shops, sometimes up to £500, is nonsense and simply scaremongering from an individual who no longer has a shop in the town and is actually a share-holding member of the Faversham Hop Festival Company.”
“Any stall, in any location, that is not on our list on the day will not be permitted to trade, and this will be strictly adhered to.”
Other traders also said the committee had initially charged them to put stalls outside their shops but directors had changed their mind after the Faversham News contacted them.
Mandy Burden, 48, who works at bakery Crust in East Street said they had paid £170 per square metre per day to have a hog roast outside the shop and a stall selling hot snacks such as sausage rolls.
She said: “We were told on Friday we no longer had to pay the committee but we’ve already paid because before that the owner was told he absolutely had to. Now he’s scared he’s not going to get the money back. We always have a stall at the Hop Festival. This situation is ludicrous.”
Morris dancers will be performing throughout the weekend
John Mallinder, 55, a business partner at florist Malledens in Preston Street, paid £150 before being told on Friday the payment was not necessary.
Mr Mallinder, who will sell head-dresses and jewellery made from hops on his stall, said: “We were told without a shadow of a doubt we had to pay to put a stall out the front of our shop so I sent a cheque for £150.
“The committee obviously started panicking because last week one of them turned up at my shop and said there had been a misunderstanding and we should have been asked whether we wanted to make a voluntary donation or sponsor a group.
“We decided to let them keep the money as a donation because I’m not going to be petty about £150.”
Faversham Hop Festival director John Turner says Mr Cumberland is ‘confused’
Owner of vintage clothes shop L Jay’s Attic, Lisa West, 46, said she was happy to pay the £150 to have a stall outside her Preston Street shop. She said: “I was going to donate £100 to the Hop Festival anyway so to pay £150 for a traders’ pack wasn’t that much more.”
The Hop Festival committee purchases an event organisers’ permit, costing between £65 and £200, which enables stalls to be set up throughout the town.
Swale Council spokesman Kelly August said the authority had spoken to the Hop Festival Committee about how to communicate with shop owners.
She said: “Shop owners are allowed to have stalls outside their own shops during Faversham Hop Festival without the need for a licence.
“If they want to have a stall in a part of town away from their shop, or they don’t have a shop, they will need to go through the committee. They can’t apply through us.”
Seven styles of morris dancing will be performed over the two days including Cotswold morris, featuring dancers with bells, handkerchiefs and sticks, and rapper sword, where dancers hold sprung steel “swords” with handles at each end and weave intricate patterns at great speed.
More than 10 morris sides will perform throughout the weekend, with entertainment mainly around Market Square.
Bands will play at various locations offering everything from folk, rock, blues and reggae to choral music.
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