A TRADER has accused bosses at Winchester Cathedral of being Scrooges after he was banned from handing out leaflets to promote his business to festive market stall holders by the city's ice-rink.

The D & G Hardware shop in St George's Street has for the past four years offered its services to traders running the Christmas market stalls in Cathedral Close.

But this year Toby Roberts, owner of D & G Hardware, says he was told by cathedral staff he cannot do so.

“It's just ridiculous,” he said.

“We were just there in a funny way supporting the market and to make a little bit out of it as well.

“I thought this was a time of goodwill to all men, but I don't feel very much of that.”

For the last four years, Mr Roberts has spoken to stallholders on the opening day of the market and at the mid-way changeover, to let them know about the services his store offers, and to give out leaflets with the details.

Possible items of interest include Christmas lighting, clamps, hooks, batteries and waterproofing, he said.

This year his wife did the same thing, only for them to be told by a phone call that this was not acceptable.

He argues that he is actually helping the cathedral by improving stallholders' experience so they will return in future, and was not targeting or bothering customers.

He said that he could object to the market drawing custom away from Winchester's all year round retailers, but has always encouraged it because it brings people to the area.

However, he said the festive market should be for the benefit of all Winchester businesses.

He said that the cathedral runs it as a commercial enterprise, so it is hypocritical to not allow other businesses to do the same, and that many stallholders who had come in said they wished they had known about the store earlier.

“Obviously it's good for us, we're running a commercial organisation, but it's a win win,” claimed Mr Roberts.

“It's not realistic for them to say that that event is solely for them, because it's for Winchester - we can all gain.”

A spokesman for Winchester Cathedral said: “No requests have been received for authorisation to hand out leaflets using our logo as an endorsement at this year's Christmas Market, and we would expect anyone wishing to do so to ensure that they had formal permission first.”