A PLANNED bring and buy sale for seedlings and plants in Heytesbury tomorrow has been postponed after condemnation from a local businessman.

The sale was due to have taken place from 10am to 12 noon at St Peter & St Paul Church in Heytesbury to raise funds for Heytesbury, Knook and Tytherington Churches.

It was quickly cancelled after Robert Clark, owner of Harling IT Services in Warminster, said he was “appalled” organisers had planned such an event during the Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown.

He said: “I am shocked and amazed that you are holding a plant bring and buy sale under these current circumstances. How can you possibly think that this is appropriate?

"Whilst you may say that you will be keeping social distancing (and even that I’d be surprised if you succeeded), how are you going to deal with people pouring over plants and buying and selling with cash?

"There are some comments online that this is no different to the garden centres opening. This is entirely different. There is no way that you will be able to put on this event safely, and quite frankly, I am appalled that you even thought it would be possible.

"What a huge let-down to the community that you seem to think that lockdown is over. It’s not. There are a huge number of small businesses that still cannot open. They are having to make major preparations for the times when they can, in order to protect themselves and their customers.

“I suspect (please correct me if I am wrong), that the organisers of this event have gone nowhere near what would need to be done. Are you using Perspex screening to separate seller and buyer? Are you using contactless card payment only?

“With the likely values of most transactions, I fully suspect not. Every transaction is going to be notes and coins passed back and forth.

"Even if you had made arrangements to cover all of the above, there is the point that you are now taking away trade from the legitimate garden centres, that have been unable to trade for so long, have had to destroy so much stock and, now that they can open, will be needing every penny of trade in order to operate.

"Frankly I feel that you are letting down your community, the wider business community, and perhaps most importantly, the key workers in the NHS that have been putting their lives at risk for so many weeks.

“If you feel that I am wrong, I would love to hear how you think this can be conducted safely, and how ethical you feel that it is in taking away trade from businesses.

"Personally, I can’t see how you can do it, but would love to be proved wrong.”

Reverend Trudy Hobson, Rector of the Upper Wylye Valley Team, said: “The proposed plant sale at Heytesbury church has been postponed.

“While the organisers had made every provision to ensure the safety of anyone attending, given the health-related restrictions on gatherings currently in place, I took the decision to call off the event.

"Once it is safe to do so, the popular plant sale will return.”