A HIGH STREET trader has called for a level playing field, after being told he was not eligible for a stall at the weekly market in his town.

Mick Stevenson has run Veg & Fruits, in Bedale, for the past year. He decided to seek a stall following a call by Bedale Town Council, which runs the market, for members of the community to support it in an effort to help it grow.

The town council launched its campaign earlier this month, with traders offered a trial stall price of £11 per day.

Mr Stevenson’s attempt to take advantage of that offer was thwarted.

He says he was told by market superintendent Phil Matthews that he was not allowed a stall, as there was already a regular grocery stall on the town’s Tuesday market.

Mr Stevenson, 46, took over the Market Place store last year, after Garner’s which had operated for more than 50 years, ceased trading after its then-owners experienced financial problems.

He wanted to set up a stall in the market place, selling selected lines from his shop, including potatoes and eggs.

“I was told it is market policy only to have one of each particular type of stall,” said Mr Stevenson. “But that is not the case in Northallerton or Leyburn.

“All I want is to be able to have a stall on the market, and for there to be a level playing field.”

The Northern Echo has been unable to contact Mr Matthews for comment, but Bedale mayor Amanda Coates said the town council had to strike a balance between having a suitable variety of stalls on the market and freedom of trade.

She said if Mr Stevenson wrote to the town council outlining his concerns, the matter could be discussed at a future meeting.

Mr Stevenson said: “If they are saying there should only be one type of stall, but also saying they want the market to grow, then I think there needs to be a change in position.

“They are trying to promote the market, but surely the only way to get more customers in is to allow the market to grow first.”

Traders interested in taking a stall at Bedale market can call Mr Matthews, on 07894-599765.