A MARKET trader who makes his living by shouting about his produce has been told by a council to keep quiet.

Wayne Bellows has spent his entire working life mastering the traditional market call to attract customers.

But now the fourth-generation fruit and vegetable stallholder claims town council officials gave him a gagging order after receiving a noise complaint.

The 53-year-old said the Bellows family had been peddling their wares in Lymington high street market in full voice - and without incident - for 80 years.

He said: "The whole thing is completely bizarre and absolutely ridiculous - not to mention ironic because of my name.

"There has been a market in Lymington for 800 years.

"I have been doing this all my life, ever since I was a kid. I've never done anything differently and never had any complaints.

"When I got the letter saying I was making too much noise, I didn't believe it and threw it away.

"Then the council phoned and told me to stop shouting in the morning and only do it in the afternoon.

"We are there from 6.30am but I don't start calling out until about 10am at the earliest.

"But I did what they said. Then they called again to say I was still too loud.

"They more or less said they didn't want me to shout at all. You can't get anywhere with them. It's their way or no way.

"It gets you down. I've got to do my job and make a living."

Lymington is popular for its weekly market, which it has hosted since a charter was issued in 1250.

The street was deliberately made wide enough to allow for regular trading. The council describes it as a "great opportunity" for small, local businesses.

Mr Bellows, of Totton near Southampton, said not only is his patter part of the "great atmosphere" but it is a vital sales technique to clear his fresh produce before it rots.

He said: "All I say is the usual things like 'strawberries for a pound' and I'm not the only one who shouts.

"It's hard enough competing with the supermarkets. Markets are a dying trade."

Mr Bellows plans to raise the matter at a Lymington and Pennington Town Council meeting with stallholders at the end of the month, adding: "I must fight this for markets everywhere.

"The council makes a lot of money from it - it's really busy in the summer."

He said he was "overwhelmed" by a whirlwind of support, with some locals online branding the decision as "lunacy" and "nimbyism".

Defending the council's actions, the town's mayor Barry Dunning said it was a "storm in a teacup".

He said Mr Bellows was "merely notified" of market regulations - which say stallholders must not cause a "nuisance".

He added: "As far as I know, we only asked him to tone it down a little bit and not to shout early in the morning. I have not heard we asked him to stop.

"I'm stuck between the devil and the blue really. Personally, I love the market. It is our crown jewel. It's so important to the town.

"Calling out is part of the market. He has my sympathy. To me, as mayor, it wasn't a problem.

"But nuisance can be whatever you want to make it. We had a complaint and we have to follow that up."