Luton Alternative Market under threat after council imposes licence

Luton Alternative Market (LAM) is rethinking its position after the council imposed a licence on the event.

Friday, 21st September 2018, 9:53 am
Updated Friday, 21st September 2018, 10:58 am
Luton Alternative Market is rethinking its position

The small craft fair is usually held at the George II pub in Bute Street and sees Luton’s grassroots arts scene converge once a month.

Now, organisers have been told that the event comes under the markets charter and a licence is required.

Organiser ‘Lucy Luton’ said: “They have accepted we have some cultural value and significantly reduced what they were asking for – but it’s still leaving me forced to put the market on a more formal setting.”

Ms Luton said that a charge for stalls would be a barrier to some marketeers on low incomes.

She added: “It has really upset some stall holders who see it as the greedy council taking maybe half of their day’s earnings from items they spent hours making.”

Ms Luton told the Herald & Post that the licensing department had so far been helpful and accommodating toward LAM within the rules.

It is understood the head of licensing will approach Luton BID about supporting the event with a grant.

LAM was inspired by similar events in London, Welwyn and Northampton, as well as the Oxjam market.

After taking advice from the organisers of those events. LAM was launched in December of last year with its first event at the California Inn on Chapel Street.

Ms Luton said: “It was great fun, so we moved further into the town centre for the next one to be more accessible to people who were travelling.

“The ethos of the event is that it should be a place for creative people to try out ideas and get an audience for their work, with some recognition and validation.

“It’s not really about the money, which is why stalls are free and prices are very low with lots of original art for £5 or less. I had realised that I knew a lot of people making really interesting things, but they were finding it hard to showcase their work locally as the costs and requirements are offputting.”

A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “We are keen to encourage any grassroots initiative within the town that contributes towards the vibrancy and diversity for residents.

“To date we have not issued any formal action requiring it to close but we have been actively working with the organisers of the Alternative Market, making it clear that we are happy to work with them to ensure its continued success, but that they will need the correct licence to be able to continue to offer this facility.

“We have also been liaising with Luton BID to support the event in the future.”

The spokesman described as online rumours as “untrue” that either The Mall or owners Capital & Regional PLC had been in any way involved in the council’s decision.