AN ENTREPRENEUR has been told she is unable to sell her wares at Leek market during the festive season.
Karolina Niemczyk, from Poland, is currently staying in Leek with Franz Opitz, a Leek resident.
Mr Opitz said: "I am currently sponsoring a Ugandan student who is studying in the UK and living with me. His girlfriend Karolina is now also staying with us and wanted to trial a market stall in Leek with her unique plant arrangements.
"However, after we applied for her to have a stall at the Leek trestle market on a trial basis as a casual trader, apart from being told that there are no vacancies available this side of Christmas at any of the market days, I was totally astonished to hear from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council that a public liability insurance cover of £10million is required for each stall holder."
Mr Opitz explained that he has since carried out research in to such insurance for other markets. He said: "A much larger and well known market in London - Southwark - considers cover of £2 million adequate.
"The Market Traders Association and The Federation of Market Traders both only offer cover up to £5million. This suggests that £10million is way more than sensible.
"The Congleton market, where we test ran these plant designs recently does not ask for insurance cover of any extent."
Mr Opitz, added: "I see the council's requirement as arbitraryand anti-trade. Is this one reason why Leek market is relatively poorly attended by traders?
Mr Opitz has now gained insurance for Karolina and has attempted to book a stall in Leek for her at certain dates from February until May next year.
But he has now been told by the Market Superintendent: "Stall reservations are not normally taken so far in advance; the operation of the market is dealt with on a weekly basis for vacancies and differing lines of business.
"There are not outside vacancies on the Wednesday charter market either so I cannot accommodate you on this market."
Mr Opitz said he is astonished that there are no vacancies for the outdoor market in Leek. He said: "Given that about half the market square is presently not used for trading, any increase in uptake can only improve the market scene in Leek and satisfy those who regularly lament the decline of Leek as a market town.
"Surely, beefing up the market must be the council's aim and will be beneficial to all?"
A spokesman for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council told the Post & Times: "All traders must hold a current public, products and employees liability and insurance policy comprising £5,000,000 each for public and products liability and £10,000,000 employers liability.
"We have looked at the council having blanket cover and charging this to traders but this is impractical.
"With regard to the enquiries made by Mr Opitz, the usual route to secure a set place on the indoor or outdoor market is to stand as a casual then convert to a regular trader under licence.
"The dynamics of the market vary on a weekly basis due to factors such as demand, absence of traders and even the weather so this is how the council has normally handled allocations. However, we are happy to review Mr Opitz's requests to see if we can accommodate him on an available stall in the New Year."
The spokesman added: "The Wednesday Charter Market operates at near capacity in the public realm area. We can accommodate new traders on the Market Place but their standing is subject to their proposed business not being in direct competition with an already established regular trader. It was for this reason that Mr Opitz's request was initially declined. However, we are trying to accommodate him elsewhere.
"The Council's block public liability policy covers any claims arising from council negligence including any defects in the stalls or land on which the market stands. The limit of indemnity is £15 million each for public and products liability and £20 million for employer's liability. Traders are required to have their own public liability insurance to cover risks arising out their business."