Thursday, 31 October 2013

Stamford Town Council


LONG POST ALERT! Please bear with us and read this post – we want everyone to know disgracefully how we’ve been treated by Stamford Town Council.

This is a slightly amended version of an official complaint we have made to Stamford Town Council, after they sold our place at this year’s Christmas Market to someone else – a place we had been promised for free following the collapse of our stall last year, causing us to lose hundreds of pounds in stock and lost earnings.

This event was to be our biggest of the year in terms of raising our profile locally and in terms of sales. That has now been taken away from us, due to the council’s unprofessionalism and terrible customer service.

If you agree with that we have been unfairly treated and would like to support us, we’d really appreciate it if you shared this post or emailed townhall@stamfordtowncouncil.gov.uk to pledge your support.

Thanks,

Jack and Laura

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We attended last year's Stamford Christmas Market. The stalls, which we believe to have been incorrectly secured and not Health and Safety-checked, blew down. We were lucky not to be injured. We lost hundreds of pounds worth of stock. We could no longer trade on the day.

We were, eventually, refunded and offered a free stall for the 2013 event as way of compensation. This offer was made, verbally, by the then event organiser, Alison Hawley-Smith.

On 11/9/13 we received an email from Patricia Stuart-Mogg, Stamford Town Clerk, inviting us to apply for a place at the 2013 market, now being organised by  Stamford Town Council.

We replied the very same day to say we had filled in the form, but wanted confirmation that Ali Hawley-Smith had told the council about our free stall.

After various emails and phone calls from us it took until 4/10/13 – 23 days! – for Patricia Stuart-Mogg to contact us again, and then it was to offer us only a half-price stall.

We rejected this offer because we were promised a free stall. If the council has enough evidence to offer us a 50% stall it surely has enough evidence to honour the free stall offer. A 50% offer is an insult. It suggests they believe us, but just don’t want to honour the offer. We asked for an explanation.

After many emails it took a further 12 days for Patricia Stuart-Mogg to reply, telling us the free stall offer would not be honoured and that Ali Hawley-Smith had “no authority” to have made the offer, despite being the organiser at the time and authorising a refund at the time.

We once more appealed this and had to chase Patricia Stuart-Mogg, Cllr Maxine Couch and Cllr Susan Sandall (members of the organising committee) to reply to our emails and phone calls , as no-one had emailed or telephoned us to let us know what was going on. By all accounts it appeared we were being ignored, as we did not hear back with an explanation as to why the process was taking so long.

In Cllr Couch’s defence, she did at least reply to our emails, but only in a factual manner and to inform us of the council meeting at which our appeal would be discussed.

Cllr Sandall did not reply to a single email.

Eventually, Patricia Stuart-Mogg phoned us on 30/10/13 (the first phone conversation we have had, despite our initial reply to her email being 49 days earlier) to tell us the council had agreed to not honour the offer of a free stall and that the 50% offer still stood, but that in the meantime the event had become fully booked.

We had asked, via email and on the phone to the town hall, if a place was being held for us while this discussion was ongoing. No-one had the decency to tell us that our place – which we had been promised for free – had been sold to someone else.

This is completely unacceptable and we would like the council to acknowledge this.

The behaviour of Patricia Stuart-Mogg in particular has been totally unhelpful and unprofessional and we are now left with the impression that Stamford Town Council is an aging, outdated, groaning bureaucracy, packed with cronies who have no grasp of customer service in the 21st century.

We are a growing business that one day hopes to trade full-time in Stamford Town Centre. We have developed partnerships with a number of local businesses and have always been supportive of the town and its events.

The way the council has batted us aside, wasted our time and all but accused us of making things up is a disgrace and you should all be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves.

Stamford is a beautiful town that deserves a council that supports small, independent businesses, rather than trying to squeeze a few more pennies out of them.

If you want our business in the future, for many, many years to come, this is a very funny way of going about it.