Three Kingston market traders have been told to pack up and leave Market Place – as they don’t “fit in” with a new vision for the town centre.

Work to regenerate Kingston’s ancient market place begins in September, which will see it revamped into a “high quality hot and cold food offer”.

But the £5m scheme, developed by Kingston Council and Kingstonfirst, has left no room for three stalls that have served shoppers for a combined 78 years.

David Wilson, Angela Lassiter and Lorna Herne have been told their stalls do not meet the new market’s profile and have been asked to leave by Monday, May 13.

Mr Wilson, 73, who has been selling records, CDs and DVDs for 35 years, said: “It was a bolt out of the blue. I was told I did not fit in with their new profile.

“We are going to end up with a gentrified Covent Garden-on-Thames – even the fruit and veg boys are worried they are going to get squeezed.

“It is going to look very twee, but in my opinion lacking in options.”

Mr Wilson also criticised the overall plan for the market, saying the lack of options would drive shoppers away.

Ms Lassiter, 51, said: “This is my livelihood.

“We went to all these meetings about what was happening and then out of the blue, we’re told they’re not offering us a stall.

“Are we lowering the tone of this place?

Lorna Herne, 54, has been running a stall selling watches and accessories since 1980.

She said: “I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ve always been self employed. What am I going to do now, sign on?

“These are non-market people making the decisions. How much food do you need at one market?”

The trio have now set up a petition against the plans, which has so far attracted 400 signatures.

A joint statement issued by Kingston Council and Kingstonfirst said: “Kingstonfirst manages the Ancient Market on behalf of the Council.

“Kingstonfirst has recently met individually with all the market traders to discuss the renewal of trading agreements for 2013-14.

“Three of the existing traders have not been offered new permanent market stalls as their product range is different from the hot and cold food offer proposed for the Ancient Market.

"All three of these traders have been offered the opportunity to continue trading at the Ancient Market with a new product offer or to trade from the Fairfield Monday Market.

"Kingstonfirst have provided one month’s notice to these traders in accordance with the provision in the previous trading agreement.

“However, Kingstonfirst has also made it clear to the traders that there is scope to reach a mutually agreeable timetable for winding down or relocating the existing businesses."

Traders back their colleagues


 Market traders have backed their three fellow stallholders who have been asked to leave the market, branding the move “disgraceful”.

Fishmonger Timothy Meads, 49, said: “I think it’s disgusting. 

“I’ve been here for 31 years, same time as some of the others.

“I don’t know how they can turn around and say no to them.

“To have it just food here – I think they’re trying to slowly close the market off. To have no non food stalls like that is disgusting.”

Unlocking 'potential' of market

Council bosses have promised the £3m regeneration of Kingston’s ancient market place will “unlock the full potential” of the historic site.

Work on revamping the 12th century market will begin this autumn, and when finished, will feature new granite paving, street furniture and a lighting scheme that will “create a beautiful public space with character and drama”.

It will see 29 new timber stalls replacing the current 25, each with a “glowing orchard” artwork that will be illuminated at night.

A further 24 pop-up market stalls will be made available for occasional market traders.

The layout will open up views of the Grade II listed Market House, which will also be revamped.  

The scheme is being funded by Kingston Council, which is investing £3m, with additional funds coming from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund.