Markets, private and public spaces

After the morning at the Douglas Drive Day Care Centre headed off to Watford to visit the Indoor Market where we hope to have an event sometime in October. It was refreshing seeing the variety of stalls and stallholders – seeing the kinds of things that are hard to find in the centre of town anywhere other than such a market. Watford is  one of many market towns in Hertfordshire, dating back to around 1100 where farmers went to sell their produce. They must have been important public spaces, focuses for the community who came together on market days. On top of that long history I was shocked to be told by a security guard not to take photographs of the mall that the market is in.  What happens to community when our public spaces are no longer ours and we can no longer act freely in them?

“In towns and cities all over England, what was once public is now private. It is effectively owned by corporations, which set the standards of behaviour. These standards are the standards that are most congenial to their aim – getting you to buy things. So there will be no begging, no being homeless, no wearing hoodies. There will be no busking, and often there will be no sitting either, except in designated areas. You will eat and drink where you are told to. You will not skateboard or cycle or behave “inappropriately”. And as for political demonstrations – don’t even think about it.”

* Paul Kingsnorth, Cities for Sale

* The Guardian, Saturday 29 March 2008


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