Salisbury business’ seeks boost in wake of Skripal

The worlds media descended on the small cathedral city after a former Russian spy was poisoned. But for residents and traders, they are desperately seeking assistance to help life go on


The occasional TV presenter is still spotted outside Zizzi’s restaurant or behind the police cordon in the Malting’s. But for the locals who still have to live and work in the City, they are just hoping for some degree of normality to return to a city that is the very essence of “normal” southern life.


The story has been reported across the world. Article appear in publications such as the New Yorker whilst cable news outlets continue to report on the geopolitical consequences of the poisoning. Back in this sleepy cathedral city, it’s another Saturday which means market day. A cornerstone of the Salisbury economy the market runs every Tuesday and Saturday, all year round.


Since the poisoning, the market has seen a fall in shoppers. The locals still turn in numbers, but another key aspect of the Salisbury economy is tourism. People flock from all over the world to gaze at the wonderous Salisbury Cathedral which towers over the entire city and is a two-minute walk from the market square. Tourists come through Salisbury on their way to Stonehenge. Hundreds of them stop off at the market seeking anything from fresh fruit to meat and even watch repairs.


The path leading to the Maltings in Salisbury lies deserted with a lone police officer in the distance


For the vendors on the market, who have the cordoned off Zizzi’s restaurant in their eyeline whilst they work, there is a sense of anguish that the focus has moved to far to the global political stage, leaving them isolated and struggling with the drop-in customers. Richard Longley, who has run the Longley cheese stall in the market for years. He sees forensic officers entering and leaving Zizzi’s everyday and can see the effect it has had. “Obviously since the incident, business has been difficult. I used to get a lot more customers than I am at the moment. Obviously, I can’t imagine how horrible it must be for the people who were poisoned, and I hope they get better soon.”


In the weeks since, the local authority has sought to give the city a boost by scrapping the hideously expensive parking charges around the city in a bid to woo potential customers back to the city. This came shortly before the government announced a £2.5 million package to help the city recover including a grant to Wiltshire County Council and funds available to local businesses that have been affected. However, Longley was sceptical that the funds would ever make their way down to businesses like his. “I hope that the money from the government helps, but we are going to need help for months, not just as long as this is still in the news.”


Alison was shopping around the market, her bag loaded with fresh fruit from one of the many stalls. She sympathised with the traders having shopped in the market for years. “I love the market and shopping in Salisbury is always nice. There’s lots of other little shops outside the market that have some great things. What has happened is awful and it’s horrible to think how some of the businesses here are suffering as well because people aren’t coming here because they think we are under quarantine.”