VITAL equipment needed to open a new fishmongers at Oxford’s Covered Market may have been delayed by Brexit.

Pershore Seafoods is opening a new fishmongers on the site of the former Haymans shop, which closed in 2017 to focus on trading from the Fishmarket on Osney Mead industrial estate.

Oxford Mail:

But owner David Witts said the equipment he needs to fit out the unit is stranded in Spain and Portugal and believes Brexit could be contributing to delays.

READ AGAIN: A fishmongers is returning to Oxford's Covered Market

He had hoped to open by the end of the month or at the beginning of April but now fears the opening will be weeks away.

In November Mr Witts, 49, met Michael Gove when the Environment Secretary who helped to lead the Vote Leave campaign visited his stall at Gloucester market.

The fishmonger said: “I don’t blame Mr Gove for the delays - I voted leave and I still think we should leave on Friday.

READ AGAIN: A look back at fresh food in the Covered Market

“It’s very frustrating - I have ordered special counters from a supplier which are coming from Portugal and ice bins which are coming from Spain - I’ve paid thousands for the kit and unfortunately I’m still waiting.

“I do think this could be something to do with Brexit - it’s definitely a possibility - perhaps there is a concern about tariffs.

“I was hoping everything I needed would arrive before March 29 the original Brexit deadline but if that doesn’t happen then I want to make sure it is here by April 12.”

READ AGAIN: At a glance: What's new at Oxford's Covered Market

Mr Witts said it was ‘vital’ his stall was open before Good Friday - April 19 - because fish is traditionally eaten on that day.

He added: “I don’t want to miss sales in the run-up to Easter and ideally I will be open well in advance of Good Friday.

Oxford Mail:

“The weather’s getting warmer and we want to be there to serve people their salmon, cod and fresh prawns.

“Once the equipment is on its way there’s a 36-hour turnaround and we will need special lorry for the delivery as the parking outside the market is quite tight.”

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Christians have abstained from eating meat on Good Friday for centuries and many people, whether they are religious or not, still will only eat fish on the day.

Mr Witts added: “I’ve gone to specialists abroad because I wanted to buy the best possible equipment available - you are throwing money away if you have to replace everything again in a few years’ time.

“It’s frustrating that the equipment hasn’t arrived yet but we are making progress - we have been at the Covered Market this week and specialists are coming to fit the lighting.”

Mr Witts, 49, a fishmonger for 15 years, said earlier ‘dayboat supplies’ would come from coastal locations including Plymouth, Brixham, Brighton and Newhaven. A wide variety of seafood will be on sale including cod, haddock and salmon.

Oxford Mail:

Graham MacDonald, of iScream gelateria in the market, said: “We are having problems with stock coming out of Italy including ice cream wafers - everyone in the market is looking forward to a new fishmongers”