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Medieval charter brings lockdown village market to a halt

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image captionSteve Smith came up with the idea and was the first trader to pitch up in the pub car park
A weekly market at a village pub has been told to stop trading because it breaches an 800-year-old charter.
Traders started selling vegetables, bread and flowers in the car park of The Free Trade Inn in Sileby, Leicestershire, during lockdown.
But a charter signed by King Henry III in 1227 prohibits any market "within six and two-thirds miles" (10.8km) of nearby Loughborough.
Charnwood Borough Council said it had to protect the town's market.
A charter to hold a market was first granted to the Lord of the Manor in Loughborough in 1221 and reconfirmed in 1227 - 12 years after Magna Carta was signed.
It still allows the holder of the charter, which is now the council, to take action against rival markets set up nearby.
image captionThe market has stalls selling fruit, vegetables, baked goods and flowers
The market in Sileby, a village about five miles (8km) outside Loughborough, has run every Tuesday for the last nine weeks.
It was the idea of Steve Smith, who owns SR Fruits and lives in the village.
He started off trading on his own but the market gained in popularity and now has nine stalls.
image captionFrances Lawes and Amelia Andrews say the market is "a lovely asset to the village"
Mr Smith said: "I understand the charter is there because if it wasn't anybody could set up on any street corner.
"But during this pandemic surely they've got to use common sense - people don't want to travel on buses."
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He did not believe the market was a threat to Loughborough's as it operated on different days, and said shutting it for good would be "devastating for the village".
On Tuesday the market opened for what could be its last time, with queues of people waiting to get in.
image captionShopper Alison Lee said it would be "sad" to see it go as "a lot of thought and effort has gone into it"
Shopper Clare Newby said: "It would be a serious shame if it went for people who struggle to get out and about."
Alison Lee added: "The kids are off school and we're in lockdown so it's easier to just go into the village."
Storeholder Kiran John said: "It's crazy [they are closing it], this is what people need."
A petition set up to save the market has so far been signed by about 900 people.
image captionTakings at the pub had increased by about a third on market day, landlord Gary O'Connor said
Charnwood Borough Council said it has told stallholders to pause trading so the situation could be reviewed.
It said it would "work with" the organisers but it would not allow it to carry on in its current form over concerns about its size and the types of stalls.
The council said: "While we admire local entrepreneurs working for and in their communities, we are required to balance this by safeguarding Loughborough market's Royal Charter from competition from across the borough."
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