Climate change protestors have been accused of having a ‘destructive impact’ on Shoreham market traders after a number of demonstrations.
Members of campaign group Extinction Rebellion, renowned for its civil disobedience, have held protests at the last two farmers’ markets.
The campaign led Adur District Council markets officer John Kerr to contact the group on behalf of ‘very concerned’ market traders, who said they had seen trade decrease.
“They think that continued actions of Extinction Rebellion Shoreham on Farmers Market day is having a destructive impact on their trade,” he said, in a Facebook message to Stefan Lindon, an Extinction Rebellion member.
“I do think your group would get better publicity if your actions be focused on national retailing giants, rather than small independent businesses/traders.
“I hope you understand my reasons for making contact, I do think that your cause does have relevance, but would not like it to affect what is a very local focal point and award winning market.”
In May, the Rebellion staged a mass ‘die-in’, where dozens of environmentalists lay down around the farmers’ market in East Street for 11 minutes, brandishing placards.
At the weekend, the group ran a stall at the Beach Dreams Festival on Beach Green, but member Stefan Lindon said they had been asked to take their banners down for being ‘too controversial’.
Banners were also raised on the A27 to raise awareness about the dangers of single occupancy cars.
Responding to Mr Kerr’s assertion the group was damaging the farmer’s market, Stefan said the claim was misplaced.
“The traders love it,” he said.
“We are doing it for publicity purposes but we are all local people who shop at the farmers’ market – I know many of the traders.
“There is a small majority who don’t like it, but the aim of Extinction Rebellion is to take people out of their comfort zones.”
The Extinction Rebellion movement raises awareness of a ‘climate emergency’, using civil disobedience to stir governments and companies to action.
Shoreham’s group has more than 300 members since its inception this year.
A spokesman for Adur District Council said: “Our award-winning Adur markets continue to go from strength drawing thousands of people into Shoreham and Lancing every week, ensuring they are a real focal point of our communities.
“In recent weeks there have been a number of climate change protests held within the market itself. Following requests from a number of traders, our markets team made a polite request for campaigners to consider relocating their activities elsewhere.
“This will ensure that local traders - many of whom live within a few miles of our markets and promote sustainable methods - can continue to sell their locally-crafted produce to as wide an audience as possible.”