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Minutes of the Extra Ordinary Market Management Committee Meeting held via Zoom, on Tuesday 19 May 2020 at 6.10 pm

PRESENT:

East Ward

Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J McKenzie (Chairman)

West Ward

Councillor Mrs K Corfe
Councillor C J Hawkins

Market Hall:  Mrs G Morgan

Butchers Row:  Miss K la Fontaine.

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Mrs H Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mrs L Dixon-Chatfield (Town Clerk’s Assistant)
Councillor P Lawrence

136.     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Mr B Sidwell, Market Hall.

137.     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

The Chairman and Clerk explained the Declaration of Interest ruling.

Councillor P Lawrence declared a pecuniary interest (COVID-19 rent implications, Market Place Tenant).

Miss K Fontaine declared that in serving the interest of the Butcher’s Row tenants, as their representative, she was a tenant and had, therefore, a pecuniary interest as Councillor Lawrence. She should like to advocate a rent reduction.

Mrs Morgan declared a pecuniary interest (COVID-19 rent implications, Market Hall Studio Unit).

It was agreed that the Chairman would intervene, should the need arrive; he would also liaise with the Clerk.

138.     PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD

There was no public participation.

139.     MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 9 March 2020 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0)

140.     ACCOUNTS

It was proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the lists of payments for 31 March, 30 April and 19 May 2020 be approved.

(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0)

141.    AHP GRANT

The Town Clerk gave members a brief background including the relationship of the application in support of the Future High Street Fund (FHSF) bid.

Councillor Lawrence noted the payment of the fees, upfront at a critical time for the Market. The Feasibility Study in relation to the District Councils desire, highlighted by the FHSF, to develop Heard’s Yard, would herald the death knell for the Pannier Market. He inferred that the District Council saw the Market as a Community Centre. Heard’s Garage / yard development would see the holiday trade gravitate to the centre of the Town. The Town Council needed to look after the Market.

He reiterated that there would be no traders, no development (of the Market), no tourists, no shoppers; the long-term aim of “One Bideford” is to develop Heard as a retail / entertainment centre. He feared for the future of the Pannier Market.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer had been to a Bideford Town Centre Partnership Meeting where it was agreed that the long-term aim was to develop Heard’s Garage.

The Market historically was a good site but now suffers poor footfall as the centre of the Town has moved. She did not believe that now was the time to pay people to provide a report, that would simply state the obvious.

With the current climate, the Market shut, no Market Development Officer in situ it would be a waste of money. The Chairman concurred.

It was proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the offer of an Architectural Heritage Grant to produce a Viability Report for the Market would not be taken up.

(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0)

142.     COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS UPDATE

The Chairman indicated that there had been discussions on opening the Old Butcher’s Row, within Government guidelines, safely for tenants, visitors and staff that included operating a one-way system. He advised that a tenant had expressed a desire to open on Bank Holiday Monday, 25 May 2020.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer believed that it would be appropriate to operate a one-way system noting that the Old Butcher’s Row was wide enough providing for tenants / visitors to operate in a controlled, safe environment.

Miss la Fontaine stated that she was not in favour of opening the thoroughfare at the present time. She indicated that she had been able to work safely within her Unit during the lockdown period without the risk of close contact with members of the public. She believed that her work was not essential and should not be subject to accessibility by others. Miss la Fontaine expressed concern for those other more senior / vulnerable members of the (Market) Community and questioned whether they would wish to open.

The Chairman said it was beholden upon tenants to risk assess their own individual businesses incorporating safeguards. Their “stable” doors can be secured; individuals while working within their Units could indicate / advertise their non-availability.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer believed that it was up to the Tenants. There would be an overall plan in place.

The Chairman indicated that the Market Officer’s Furlough arrangement ran until 1 June 2020 and that the Market could not be opened prior to that date.

The Clerk advised that he had been forwarding information, much sourced from Nabma, to the Market Tenants and helping facilitate Small Business Grant Funding (SBGF) applications.

In opening Old Butcher’s Row, he agreed that it was important to establish whether there is a desire, from the Tenants, to return to their Units. Following the outcome of the Meeting he would canvas them (by E Mail).

He alluded to a meeting with the Chairman and Maintenance Supervisor to explore control measures including safe distancing, marking of two metre increments, organising a one way system, the need for tenants to risk assess their area of responsibility and engagement with customers (especially during COVID-19).

The Government had yet to confirm that shops and non-food markets would open on 1 June 2020, but the Maintenance Supervisor and Officer would prepare Old Butcher’s Row during the period 26 – 29 May 2020. He envisaged the need for the Market Officer, from 2 June 2020, to supervise the thoroughfare and clean / sterilise, perhaps hourly dependant on numbers, areas that visitors may come into contact with / touch.

It was felt that the Market Hall opening would be phased in, again with the necessary safeguard. Nabma had noted a disquiet among traders that there would be a reluctance from shoppers to visit markets generally. The Clerk felt that visitor numbers would be low.

He advised that there had been an announcement on 1 May 2020 of Discretionary Grant Funding to local authorities to support small businesses not eligible for the SBGF.

Councillor Mrs Corfe spoke about “the unknowns” but the need to establish the opinions of the Tenants for a 1 June 2020 opening. She supported a generic letter and the need for safeguards.

Miss la Fontaine contrasted the payment of rent for a safe studio space, under lockdown conditions, with opening and removing the safety.

Councillor Lawrence questioned how long the pandemic would impact upon society. The reliance upon summer visitors in the past will be lost this year. There is no Development Officer for the Pannier Market; commerce is traditionally slow in January but it has now run through to May. There has been no increase in trade.

The Chairman sympathised noting that restrictions were now being eased. The lost period may cover six months. He believed though, that the £10,000 SBGF provided a means for businesses to remain viable. He noted that the Market is a business in itself; each individual business has their personal responsibilities. By way of diversifying “the business model” he indicated that one would do whatever was necessary “to put food on the table.” The fund provided for assistance in meeting business expenditure.

Mrs Morgan in noting the difficulty in addressing such an all-encompassing yet unrecognisable phenomena but wishing to progress safely suggested that at the point when the Market Hall is opened, no one could safely enter a Studio Unit whilst the Tenants are in situ. She advocated tenants having the opportunity to take a table by means of promoting their items whilst engaging with visitors safely. She noted that there had been an advocate for a rent reduction in Butcher’s Row (in addition to the Grant payment).

The Chairman concluded that attention will be given to handwash (sanitisers located in the Market Hall entrances), physical distance measures within enclosed spaces, regular cleansing and the need for all to take personal responsibility for their own, and those they engage, safety.

143.     CONFIDENTIAL ITEMS TO BE TAKEN IN PART II

Proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That in view of the confidential nature of the business about to be discussed, it is advisable, in the public interest, that the public be excluded for the remainder of the meeting; the tenants were instructed to withdraw.

(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0)

144.      PART II (CLOSED SESSION)

THERE IS A SEPARATE CONFIDENTIAL SET OF MINUTES FOR THE CLOSED SESSION (145 – 146).

147.     RETURN TO STANDING ORDERS

Proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the meeting returns to Standing Orders.

(Vote For: 4, Against: 0)

The Chairman, having established that there was no further business to discuss, thanked the Members for their attendance and concluded the Meeting at 7.40 pm.

 

Draft Pannier Market Accounts for approval at the Market Management Committee Meeting on 19 May 2020


Accounts EXOrd MM 19 May 2020

 

 

 


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