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Minutes of the Market Management Committee held in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall on Thursday 12 January 2023 at 6.32 pm
 
PRESENT:
 
North Ward:
 
Councillor D Bushby
 
East Ward:
 
Councillor Mrs J Gubb
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J McKenzie (Chairman)
 
West Ward:
 
Councillor C Hawkins
 
Market Representative: Ms E Hilton
 
IN ATTENDANCE:
 
Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
6 x Tenants
 
80.   APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
 
N/A.
 
81.   DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND ANY REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA
 
There were no declarations of interest.
 
82.  PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION
 
A tenant led discussion on Agenda Item 5 - the future of the Market Hall.
 
Points raised included:
 
• Removal of the Studio Units.
o Annual receipts.
• Cost of Cinema equipment against return on investment.
• Charter and Lease commitment.
 
The Chairman and Clerk responded that no firm decision had been arrived upon, this financial year has earnt £6,846.00 (incorrectly stated as £16,000 at the time), the cost of the Cinema screen and chairs £2,700.00 with no financial return.  The Charter is held by the District Council, the Council’s Lease provides for use as a market (and ancillary shops).
 
The Chairman explained the Committee’s desire to hold specialist markets, with a degree of flexibility to maximise the visitor opportunity in the future.
 
Further points included: 
 
• Trader base loss following change from five day to two day trading, clearing of Market Hall at end of trading day and impact of COVID-19 / Lockdown periods.
• Personal investment by tenants in their business operation.
• Market comparison with other Town Centre markets.
• Potential impact of Studio Units closure on the wider Market Complex offer.
• Commitment to core hours did present problems to some tenants.
• Successful Welcome Back Fund Events proved what could be attained.
• Realisation that something has to change highlighted when the Studio Units are not open.
 
Councillor Bushby indicated that formal consideration should be given at Agenda Item 5.
 
The Chairman agreed reiterating that all options remained open. 
 
83.   MINUTES
 
Proposed by Councillor McKenzie and seconded by Councillor Bushby, the Minutes of the Meeting held on 8 December 2022 were approved and signed as a correct record.  
 
(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0, Abstention: 1) 
 
84.   MARKET HALL FUTURE
 
Councillor Bushby appreciated the earlier discourse that allowed for a full and frank discussion. He expressed sympathy but indicated that the experience was of a struggling Market, it is failing despite investment from the Council.
 
He believed that Butcher’s Row and the Market Place shops were a separate entity in relation to the Hall.  The Hall was limited by the presence of the Studio Units.
 
The Committee want to introduce more quality markets, that will attract greater footfall.  The present set up compromises events such as beer festivals; the offer needs to be bigger and better.
 
He noted that apart from the Kingsley School and Bideford College there were no large open spaces in the west of Bideford.  He indicated that the Bideford Regeneration / TDC initiative saw the potential for the Hall and that funding streams could be sourced to develop the offer.
 
The Clerk highlighted the investment that the Committee had made in support of the Festive period, including gratis trading on 17 and 23 December yet the take up / return had been disappointing.  He recognised, also the effort expended by a number of tenants and the staff to provide the best trading offer.
 
Councillor Bushby believed without a core of traders the Tuesday / Saturday market trading days have gone.  Visitor disappointment breeds negativity.  Comparison with a rural town centre, boasting a farming community and adjacent car parking is futile; it is clear changes are needed.  It is no longer the market of yesteryear when the Hall was packed on Christmas Eve.
 
Councillor Mrs Hellyer expressed a deep affection for the Market and its place in the Community but sorrow that the footfall is so dire.  She conceded that the High Street was equally challenged.
 
She believed that the Play Area should be returned as it was popular (the Chairman instructed the Clerk to make the necessary arrangements).
 
Councillor Mrs Gubb spoke of a visit, the previous week, to the Hall on a Wednesday when only the Café was open.  Similarly, she noted a number of Butcher’s Row Units were not open.  She felt strongly that the core hours must be adhered to across the board; there had been a leniency that had allowed for poor attendance.
 
The Clerk in noting the criticism laid at the Council spoke of the decline and the challenges faced by the Development Officers, including the disdain and almost contempt that they encountered in trying to arrest the fall.  Their positive work that did provide for a highly visible presence was stymied when the visitor attraction was not wholly open for business. 
 
Councillor Bushby spoke on the work of the Town Centre Partnership in establishing Coach Friendly Status to the Town, the benefits in terms of visitor numbers yet the embarrassment the Market presented.  He reiterated that it could not continue (in its present form).
 
It was proposed by Councillor McKenzie and seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer, and
 
RESOLVED:  That a meeting of the Working Group is convened to reflect on the discussion and make recommendation to the next Meeting of the Market Management Committee to be held on 23 February 2023.
 
(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0)
 
85.   ACCOUNTS
 
It was proposed by Councillor McKenzie and seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer, and
 
RESOLVED:  That the lists of payments for 12 January 2023 be approved.
 
(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0)
 
86.   CHAIRMAN’S / MARKET ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT
 
The Clerk stated that there would be a Warm Winter Clothing and Uniform Event in the Pannier Market Hall: 15 – 17 February 2023.
 
87.   TENANT REPORT
 
Ms Hilton simply repeated the request for the Play Area to be reinstated.
 
Members expressed appreciation for the Tenant attendance, their desire to work with the Committee and encouragement in working together for a positive future.
 
88.   PART II CLOSED SESSION
 
The Chairman thanked Ms Hilton and the Tenants for their attendance / contribution.
 
It was proposed by Councillor McKenzie and seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer, and
 
RESOLVED:  That in view of the confidential nature of the business about to be discussed, the meeting will be held in Part II (Closed Session).
 
(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0)
 
89.   CHAIRMAN’S REPORT
 
There was no report.
 
90.   TENANT / TRADER 
 
a.   Applications had been received for Butcher’s Row Unit 18 and 25 Market Place, the respective Tenants having recently served Notice to Quit.
 
It was proposed by Councillor Mrs Hellyer and seconded by Councillor McKenzie, and
 
RESOLVED:  That Natasha Bennett is offered the 25 Market Place tenancy but that a decision on Butcher’s Row Shop Unit 18 is deferred until the next Meeting.
 
(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0)
 
b.   The Clerk indicated that there were no rental concerns; all rental payments had been made and were up to date effective 23 December 2022.
 
The business of the meeting having, therefore, been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 8.18 pm.
 
Table of accounts for the Pannier Market  presented at the meeting of 120123
 
 
 

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