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Tension over new weekly market in North Quarter
A weekly fruit and vegetable market that opened on and around Place Saint Lazare in the Brussels neighbourhood of Saint-Josse over the weekend has already prompted political tension.
The City of Brussels and opposition parties Ecolo-Groen have criticised the project from mayor Emir Kir, Bruzz reports.
They say the decision to launch the market, which will be open every Saturday from 9.00 to 14:30, was made without sufficient involvement from nearby merchants.
“We are absolutely not against the market, we just believe it must remain sufficiently small-scale,” said Frédéric Roekens of Groen.
“A second Marché du Midi won't work here. There’s no place for trucks and large stalls.”
The new market was announced in September and features around 40 stalls selling fruit, vegetables, fish, flowers, textiles and household supplies. The North Market occupies not only the square under the renovated Victoria Tower, but also some surrounding streets.
Ecolo-Groen submitted a motion this week to organise more consultation around the size of the market and a proposal to sell only food there, which passed with more votes than mayor Kir secured for the establishment of the market - 13 compared to 11.
Three of the city's own aldermen and the city council president co-approved the opposition proposal, which does not take effect until next week.
Apart from complaints about the size of the market and lack of local cooperation, there was also criticism of its effects on mobility.
“In the coming weeks, we expect a lot of traffic in the city centre,” said Brussels mayor Philippe Close (PS), asking if it were not possible to postpone the market until February, when holiday markets and festivities will have ended.
Close sent a letter to mayor Kir asking for better traffic flow around the market, saying that related road closures could cause traffic jams as far as Boulevard de Berlaimont, near Brussels-Central station, and citing police advice.
But mayor Kir remains a staunch defender of the market in its existing state.
“It was the residents who insisted that the market should be held at the weekend because they work during the week,” Kir said.
“We had initially thought of Sunday, but after consultation with our North Market manager, it turned out that the traders preferred Saturday because they were already elsewhere.
"To have a market, you need traders. And it's on Saturdays that they've set their sights. This has been included in the projects we have submitted to the region. It's hard to understand the about-turn by some people today.”