Making the most of Street Stalls

Street stalls are a really effective, high-vis way of campaigning. Lib Dem Regional Development Officer for the North-East, and Newcastle Local Councillor, Thom Campion takes us through how to run a successful street stall.

As Liberal Democrats, we may know our Ward boundaries off by heart and understanding that to the left of this road is Abbey Ward and to the right is Castle Ward! However this isn’t always the case for our residents.

Not only this, quite often issues can transcend ward boundaries, the traffic won’t magically stop being an issue as you move from Victoria Ward to Monument Ward. How we deal with these issues can make a real difference as to how effective residents think we are. After all, no one wants to be fobbed off with ‘not my area, not my problem’.

One of the best ways to deal with cross-Ward issues is coming together as a team of councillors to tackle an issue together and to be seen as working together. This can take many forms, for example common literature, drop-in Focus articles or cross-ward petitions. 

However, when it comes to being seen as one cohesive team and helping to solve those larger issues, one of the most effective ways to do this can be through holding street stalls together. 

In Newcastle upon Tyne, where I’m a local councillor, we have a real issue with traffic along a road that passes through a number of wards and is used by residents from even more. One way we have chosen to tackle this is to hold a street stall every other Saturday with at least one councillor from the relevant wards present. 

This has allowed us to be highly visible and seen to be tackling the issue, it has also meant residents see us as one cohesive team that works together, rather than as a number of silo wards. Given that we’re pushing to take control of the city in the coming years, it is really important that residents see us as one big team with a clear plan for the city as a whole. 

Of course, there are a number of practical considerations to think about when you’re considering getting started with a street stall:

  1. Location, location, location

2. Finding footfall

3. People power

Location, Location, Location

Street stalls can be a real asset, but they also have the potential to create more harm than good. When thinking about where to hold your street stall, you need to make sure it’s somewhere you won’t obstruct pedestrians, leaving enough room for wheelchairs and buggies to get through. It’s also always worth checking you don’t need a permit or licence to have a stall. Where we hold our street stall in Newcastle, we’re in a section recessed from the pavement itself, meaning we’re not obstructing any pedestrians going about their Saturday morning.

Finding Footfall

Nobody wants to spend their time standing around not actually talking to anyone and just looking at an empty street. You should make sure where you position your street stall is somewhere with a high foot fall, where you’ll actually spend time speaking to people, not just twiddling your thumbs. Our Newcastle street stall is on Gosforth High Street, a main road that traverses multiple wards, it’s always busy and there are always people to speak to.

People Power

There’s nothing worse than being ‘Billy No Mates’, standing on your own and looking lonely. All it does is makes us look like a small party, not able to have the resources to win elections. If you’re going to hold a street stall, it’s important to get buy-in from your local councillors and activists that they’ll be there to support this. The street stall we run in Newcastle always has at least one councillor from the relevant wards and often key activists too. This not only shows us as one coherent team, but it means if there are specific ward issues raised, there will be a councillor or activist there to deal with them. 

Overall, street stalls can be a really great, high visibility campaigning tool to be utilised in those key areas within a community – be it the local high street or the weekend market. If you’re looking for that next key campaigning tool then this could be it!

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