Man behind Ravenscourt Park and Bishop’s Park markets sues the borough
Ross Spurrier of RMS Markets
The man who organised the farmers’ markets at Ravenscourt Park and Bishop’s Park in Fulham has filed claims against Hammersmith & Fulham Council for damages arising out of its closure of his weekly markets.
Ross Spurrier of RMS Markets is seeking damages of almost £50,000 claiming the borough has abused Covid-19 related powers. The council obtained an injunction preventing him re-opening the markets and citing Covid-19 despite other outdoor markets and concessions being allowed to continue in the borough.
At the start of this year, he had been told that he was no longer allowed to trade, owing to the latest lockdown and concerns about footfall in the park.
In March, he was informed that he would be allowed to resume organising markets from 12 April in line with the reduction of national restrictions. However, about a week prior to restarting the markets, he was e-mailed by the council and informed that it had changed its mind. As well as the issue of increased footfall in the parks, the council said it wanted to prioritise sports usage. On 30 April, following objections to the council’s actions by Mr Spurrier, he was served with an injunction preventing him from operating any events in the council’s parks.
On 5 May, the council commenced formal proceedings against Mr Spurrier seeking to make the injunction permanent. It is also seeking to make him pay its legal costs. His legal advisors say that injunction was obtained ex parte, without notice and Mr Spurrier is seeking to set it aside.
On 21 June, Mr Spurrier filed and served his defence and counterclaim, seeking damages of just under £48,000 (plus interest and legal costs) for the losses that he has suffered as a result of the council’s closure of his business.
Mr Spurrier said, “Most local businesses have returned to almost full operation, and in less than a month the government intends to remove the final social distancing restrictions. Despite that, the Council apparently thinks it right to take out injunctions to stop open-air traders from operating in its parks because of supposed coronavirus concerns. I don’t think that is fair or a good use of public money. My business has suffered terribly as a result of what the council has done to me and other small businesses like mine, and I have been left with no choice but to defend my rights.”
He has set up a petition to re-open the markets which has received over 1,900 signatures, and he says that local people and businesses have donated generously to his legal fighting fund. Through his barristers Robert Griffiths QC and Nicola Strachan of 6 Pump Court, and through his law firm Spencer West, Mr Spurrier has been challenging the council’s conduct.
Mr Griffiths, a public and commercial QC, has successfully taken on similar cases against Camden Council and other local authorities. He commented, “Local authorities have to accept the consequences of their actions, and appreciate that the failure to comply with the Coronavirus No.3 Regulations relating to COVID-19 and the closure of business sounds in damages.”
Paolo Caldato, Commercial Dispute Resolution Partner at Spencer West, added, “It has become clear that London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Council has acted without any regard to the Regulations, and has produced no real evidence that it acted on the basis of any public health advice. The Council has made clear that it intends to put the farmers’ markets concession out to tender, and that they will resume once that tendering process is complete. A desire to change its commercial arrangements should not have played a part in the Council’s decision-making process in this case, under the cover of purported concerns about COVID-19.”
Picture: Ravenscourt Park Farmers' Market
A council spokesperson said, “On public health advice the borough’s farmers markets remain closed. But [the council] looks forward to re-establishing such attractions in its parks when the current health crisis allows. This will follow a competitive tender process for the provision of outdoor markets.
“We also recognise that the pandemic has had a detrimental effect on local shops, cafes, and restaurants so we will take this opportunity to review the purpose of the markets and develop a new set of outcomes so we best support local businesses and residents.”
Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More
This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.
Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.
We’ve always done that and won’t be changing, in fact we’d like to do more.
However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.
We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.
A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.
One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.
If you do support us in this way we’d be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.
For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you’d like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.
July 1, 2021