There are increasing reports of anti-social behaviour in the area where Tooting Market operates amid an easing of lockdown restrictions imposed to slow the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.
Residents in the area have pointed to people gathering in numbers on Totterdown Street in particular as a nuisance in recent days amid ongoing concerns about the spread of the virus.
And while the reopening of many pubs and restaurants last weekend (July 4-5) generated more crowds in the area, the gathering of larger groups in the area extends before the easing of those particular lockdown restrictions.
As the Market has pointed out, permitting vendors to sell "take-away" alcohol helps them survive as businesses and also lowers the chance of spreading of Covid-19 coronavirus during the ongoing pandemic.
The Totterdown Street entrance of the market in particular has been highlighted as cause for concern.
Yet it has also led to unintended consequences such as encouraging drinking in larger groups in public spaces with fewer rules and regulations than a pub for example might have.
Resident Brionie Sherriff, who has lived in the area for over 40 years, described the impact of the problem on community members like herself:
"There is no control over the venue," Brionie told the Comet of the area around Tooting Market.
"As a consequence it puts everyone at risk of a second spike of Covid," she added.
Last weekend, rubbish left behind was cleaned up thanks to the efforts of Tooting Market trader Luis, who runs the Minas Shop Grill with his wife Mina at the market.
Tooting Market has acknowledged the problem of antisocial behaviour in a statement describing what they are doing to address the issue.
"We take the matter of antisocial behaviour extremely seriously and are doing everything we can to ensure the Market remains a welcoming and friendly place for the community," a spokesperson for the Market told the Wandsworth Times.
They pointed to the alcohol "take-away" rules in particular as an area that was likely related to the anti-social behaviour in the area as coronavirus lockdown measures are eased.
The market said they had closed shutters across the market early on the weekend in the hopes of lessening the impact of the gatherings.
However, despite cooperation with police, the situation is hard to police as the government's latest advice on physical distancing measures amid the ongoing pandemic is just that — advice i.e. guidance that for the most part is not enforceable by police at the moment.
"These events crept up slowly and then became quite an issue this last week," Tooting Market said.
"One of the problems at the Totterdown Street entrance to Tooting Market was that people brought their own alcohol and camped on the pavements across the road from the Market as well as along the pavement adjacent to the Market.
"Patrons mingled within the forecourt of the market. It was impossible to distinguish who were patrons and who were people looking for an evening out with their own alcohol," they added.
"Little did we realise that crowds would continue to swell. This is extremely abnormal for the Market and we were not equipped for the number of people who congregated there."
In response to the weekend's events, Tooting Market said they would be shutting the Totterdown Entrance from 7pm "for at least the next week" in an effort to reduce crowds.
"This is not just about the temporary noise (as we will return to a norm in the coming days/weeks when local pubs absorb this demand), but the need to comply with social-distancing rules," they said.
Photo: Crowds gather on Totterdown Street near Tooting market on June 27. Image: Brionie Sherriff