STROUD District Council has called off controversial plans to put the town’s award winning farmers’ market out to tender, the SNJ can reveal.

The decision follows an impassioned meeting between representatives of the district council and around 20 stallholders yesterday (Wednesday).

SDC had come under mounting pressure to withdraw the tender after 2,000 members of the public signed a petition against the move.

Stroud MP Neil Carmichael had also called on the authority to reconsider its decision to invite bids from companies interested in taking over the market.

The SNJ understands that SDC’s Labour leader Geoff Wheeler will make a statement at tonight’s meeting at Ebley Mill to announce the climb down.

On being informed by the SNJ that the tender process had been shelved, the market's current operator Gerb Gerbrands said he was 'relieved' and 'delighted' at the news.

"I'm delighted and obviously relieved. Relief is definitely the main emotion. I'm just happy it's all over for now," he said.

A spokesman for SDC said: "The issue of tendering for the running of the market has obviously created concern among traders.

"Despite our efforts to reassure them that we have every intention of ensuring that the market continues to be a success, they remain worried.

"With this in mind, we have stopped the current tender. The council leader will make a more detailed statement at this evening’s strategy and resources committee meeting.”

UPDATE - 7.05pm

Geoff Wheeler, leader of SDC, has just read out the following statement in the council chamber at Ebley Mill: "There has been a great deal of interest and concern about the tender to re-let Stroud Farmers’ Market in particular from stallholders. 

"The council is very mindful of the role that the farmers' market plays in the business life of Stroud town centre.

"To enable the council to address the concerns which have been raised, the current tender is being stopped pending additional consultation with stakeholders including the market stallholders. 

"A report will be submitted to strategy and resources committee on the 13th of February setting out options, including the future tender of the market, all of which will promote its ongoing success and sustainability. 

"Potential bidders will be notified as soon as possible and other interested parties will be contacted in the New Year."