Pie Wars

Attempts have been made to bring peace to a market town where two traders have gone to war over their pies.

Relationships between a pub and market trader became crusty when landlord Craig Harker complained about the location of a new food stall on market days.

The boss of The George, in Stockton High Street, said the location of the pitch just outside the door of the pub on Wednesdays and Saturdays, was taking his customers away.

So he declared war by offering free pie and peas.

Now, market bosses at Stockton Council have intervened in the row by moving market trader John Buckle to a different position not directly in front of the pub.

But it’s an uneasy truce, with Craig saying John should have been moved further away.

Craig said: “As a goodwill gesture, the council moved the pitch along one space.

“I have asked that he moved at least another spot so as not to cause more conflict, but it seems they feel moving him two metres along is sufficient.

“So if anyone is about Stockton, I will be given away free pies and peas again.”

Officials at Stockton Council, which runs the market, came up with the idea of swapping John’s stall, Just Love Pies, with a DVD stall.

Cabinet member for regeneration and transport Councillor Mike Smith said: “As a goodwill gesture, we have arranged for Mr Buckle to relocate his stall to a different position, which is not directly in front of The George pub.”

Craig said: “There is a conflict of two places selling hot food in close proximity to each other.

“Although everyone is entitled to earn a living, surely there is another market spot away from a high- street pub that has an excellent reputation for food.” John said he did not see what all the fuss was about.

He said: “I sell food but it is not the same food as the George. I sell home-made pies and peas which I make myself. Mr Harker may sell pies and peas but they won’t be the same.

“He is coming out with his tannoy announcing free pie and peas and is blatantly trying to put me out of business. I don’t think I deserve this, but I am not going anywhere.”

The landlord of The George in Stockton Craig Harker
The landlord of The George in Stockton Craig Harker

Craig is now considering putting more on his plate and opening his own stall in the market.

The market has gone through major upheaval in the last two years with the council admitting traders have been moved from pillar to post and are only now starting to get settled into a new location.

Meanwhile, all of the stalls on Stockton’s 700-year-old market have had a make-over.

As part of the town’s on-going regeneration, they have each been transformed with a new blue-and-white-striped canopy.

Mike said: “Stockton’s strong markets heritage is one of its unique features and that’s why we are working hard to support it as part of the ongoing regeneration.

“The town’s market traders have been incredibly patient while the works have been taking place and I would like to thank them for that and their ongoing support.

“Once the physical regeneration is complete, we will continue to work with them to make sure Stockton’s market continues to flourish in the future months and years.”

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