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Minutes of the Market Management Committee Meeting held in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, Bideford, on Thursday 2 August 2018 at 6.30 pm
 
PRESENT:
 
North Ward
 
Councillor D Bushby
Councillor T Johns
 
East Ward
 
Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor J McKenzie
 
South Ward
 
Councillor D Brenton (Chairman)
Councillor B Wootton
 
Market Hall
 
Mrs B de Noranha
Mr B Sidwell
 
Butchers Row:    Mr M Dendle
 
Market Place:    Mr P Lawrence
 
IN ATTENDANCE:
 
Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Ms M Sparkes (Traders)
 
43.    APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
 
There were no absentees.
 
44.    DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA
 
There were no declarations of interest.
 
45.   PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD
 
There was no participation from the public member.
 
46.  MINUTES
 
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 June 2018 were approved and signed as a correct record.
 
(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)
 
47.  MATTERS ARISING
 
There were no matters arising.
 
48.  ACCOUNTS
 
It was proposed by Councillor Craigie, seconded and
 
RESOLVED:  That the list of payments be approved.
 
(Vote – For: 6, Against: 0)
 
49.  CHAIRMAN’S / MARKET ADMINISTRATORS REPORT
 
The Market Administrator advised that a request had been received from Bideford Phoenix Morris to dance in the Market Hall on Saturday 6 October 2018 (in aid of North Devon Hospice). 
Members, led by the Chairman, expressed their agreement in support of their request.
 
50.  NABMA UPDATE ON VAT, HMRC AND MARKETS
 
Members had received information from NABMA where they were advised that HMRC have been taking a keen interest in Markets.
 
They advised that markets that provide services additional to the letting of the land and are similarly not rated for VAT and not charging VAT are likely, at some stage in the future, to fall within the VAT “net”.  Further, they indicated that markets need to start considering the potential impact of VAT and how it will affect the viability of “your” market.
 
The Local Authority National VAT Consultative Group has reviewed the current situation and the advice they are giving is that “market authorities should do nothing different to what they are doing now until a final definitive conclusion to the ongoing dispute”.
 
NABMA concluded that while endorsing the authoritative advice it is appropriate for market authorities to consider contingency arrangements particularly in the context of potential backdating if VAT liability is established.
 
They also provided a summary on where Markets currently stand regarding VAT on Market Lettings:
 
1. Shrewsbury Market where the issue was first brought to light last year is currently in dispute with HMRC. There is the possibility the dispute might go to a Tribunal where a definitive ruling could emerge.
 
2. In the last twelve months a number of markets have been approached by HMRC Inspectors and it is understood some, if not all, have accepted that VAT is appropriate given services are included in the overall charge.
 
3. If you provide services it is understood you cannot separate the charge for the letting from the services. The overall cost is subject to VAT.
 
4. If you are liable to VAT then HMRC can recover in respect of the period up to the previous four years.
 
5. HMRC has not changed its formal advice on market lettings so we are currently in a position where the formal advice is at odds with what HMRC are currently proposing at Shrewsbury and other markets.
 
6. NABMA has raised the issue with the Treasury and is pressing for a meeting to get clarity on the HMRC position and particularly indicate the problems that can stem from an imposition of VAT liability over the last four years.
 
7. If you do not currently charge VAT, as appears in many cases based on NABMA’s own recent survey, then you need to be thinking about contingency arrangements in the event that it is established that it becomes necessary to add VAT. Please remember that the vast majority of market traders are not registered for VAT and therefore cannot recover any charge that is levied on them.
 
In view of the Council’s solar pv interest the Market Administrator reminded Members that by providing an effectively different service to simply running a market, the Council, by selling electricity, would provide a business supply within the scope of VAT.  Becoming VAT registered would see the Council having to collect VAT on other services, rent for units / stalls but not just confined to Market business, the Dotto Bus ticket prices for instance.
 
Torridge District Council had provided information to that effect (previously circulated) and had further concurred with the Town Clerk that it would be prudent to engage a VAT expert familiar with Town and Parish Councils to assess the Council’s accounts / accounting status and provide clear guidance to inform the Council’s decision making process. 
 
Torridge District Council had agreed to investigate the impact upon the Listed status and also the impact upon their Council given that they are the Landlords.
 
The Town Council would have to consider, with all the appropriate information, whether to pursue the panels as an exercise in producing cheaper electricity for the Market Hall Traders and Tenants against the overall cost of installation, including applications, insuring the system, maintaining it and charging VAT on the stall / unit rentals and other services provision.
 
The Market Administrator advised that the Committee should agree to (and subsequently ratify) engaging a VAT expert to assess the Council’s accounts and accounting status and provide clear guidance to inform the Council’s decision making process. 
 
Councillor Mrs Craigie disagreed; she stated that ACE (domain name for Atlantic Community Energy) would effectively be supplying the electricity to the Market independently from the Council and that there would be no VAT implication for the Council.  Upon questioning she said that ACE would be the Provider, in the same manner as E.On / EDF.
 
The Market Administrator indicated that the Council had agreed to pay for the installation but was unaware of an arrangement for another party to be involved in the project.
Councillor Bushby highlighted the advice of NABMA not to do anything differently. 
 
The Market Administrator explained that the information had been provided to update Members on Market / HMRC / VAT positioning; the case for seeking professional advice was as a result of the potential implications to the Market and Council through generating and selling electricity.
 
Discussion followed on the engagement and value of (local) professional advice, concern that opinion was simply opinion, unknown cost of professional advice and whether the advice would stand up to HMRC / Court scrutiny; Members were very reluctant.  (The Market Administrator did state that it was the Senior TDC Management Accountant he had spoken to - who had urged seeking appropriate advice – and would provide detail of an appropriate accounts advisor.  (An E Mail from her had been circulated prior to the start of the Meeting.))
 
The Chairman advised that 361 Energy CIC should be approached to investigate and provide a definitive answer or provide an indemnity against incorrect advice.  He said a decision should not be made on engaging professional advice, that it should be deferred upon obtaining cost / having addressed 361.  He speculated that NALC and DALC could be addressed, similarly the Attorney General.
 
Councillor Mrs Craigie spoke of the recently established array on a market in Leicester and wondered at contacting them.  The Market Administrator stated that a Mr Harris, a VAT specialist at Leicester City Council had provided advice (some of which had been circulated to members in the past).  He added that NABMA had also been contacted.
 
Members agreed to defer the decision to engage a specialist VAT advisor.
 
51.  TV LICENCE
 
The Market Administrator advised that many years ago a tenant did have a television / satellite operation.  He highlighted from the correspondence received from TV Licensing (circulated to Members) the caveats for those watching programmes on the premises and accessing downloads or viewing the BBC iPlayer and asked whether the Committee wished to obtain a license to cover the Market stakeholders.
 
Councillor McKenzie intimated that to view the iPlayer users would have to have their own license provision and advised against.
 
Mrs de Nornaha wondered with the popularity of the recent World Cup whether the License would provide the mandate for future additional Market Hall opportunities.
 
Councillor Bushby intimated that a license could be obtained “on the day” for a specific event.
 
It was proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded and
 
RESOLVED:  That a TV License would not be obtained for the Bideford Pannier Market.
 
(Vote – For: 6, Against: 0)
 
52.  STAIR LIFT
 
Mr Dendle explained that he had arranged for a representative from Devon Stairlifts to consider whether access for the disabled could be improved through the installation of stair lifts.  It was established that at a cost of £9,000 two could be installed.  He believed that it would enhance the Market experience and would be improve the safety and security for those disabled visitors.
 
Councillor Mrs Craigie believed that the Glass Doors and addressing VAT should take priority.
 
Mr Dendle indicated that grant funding could be obtained.
 
Councillor Bushby wondered how the wheel chair would reach the summit i.e. the disabled person would abandon their chair at Market Street when finding themselves in the Market Hall. 
 
Currently wheel chair users still can access the Market Halls through the two main entrances.  It was noted, however, that a wheel chair user can only use the side entrances by entering the road.
Members expressed a will for further investigation into the idea, including grant funding detail.
 
Proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded and
 
RESOLVED:  That Mr Dendle investigates the initiative further, including grant funding.
 
(Vote – For: 6, Against: 0)
 
53.  COMMITTEE TRADERS / TENANTS
 
1. Mrs de Noranha asked if there was a timescale for the installation of inner doors.  The Chairman advised that the Project was to be discussed in Part II.
 
2. Could a rent reduction be considered for January / February 2019?  The Chairman replied that rent would be discussed at the October Meeting when setting the Budget; a gratis provision is also considered under a separate item.
 
3. Mr Sidwell spoke on suspending part of a mast, from an historic ship, with photographs and information provided by Councillor Christie.  He added that Councillor Christie would also provide a re-write of the Market.  He asked that the items be placed on the Agenda for the next Meeting (to be held on 13 September 2018).
 
4. Given that there are no fruit and vegetables outlets Mr Sidwell wondered if the Allotment tenants could not be invited to sell their excess produce from the Market.  The Chairman stated it was illegal; Councillor Bushby wished the Allotment Committee to consider the question at their next Committee Meeting.
 
5. Mr Sidwell requested that trading on the day of the Christmas Lights “Switch On” and Late Night Shopping be placed on the next agenda along with Reindeer provision at the Market during Late Night Shopping Tuesday (following the “Switch On”).
 
6. Mr Dendle raised concern about the operating hours of two specific tenants but could not comment on any others.
 
7. He sought clarification on the advertising of shop / units.  He suggested that notices are posted advertising availability. 

Councillor Bushby led the Committee in agreeing that vacancies should be posted on the Market Notice Boards, in the Unit / Shop window and on social media.  There was no support advertising in the local newspapers.
 
8. Mr Lawrence expressed frustration at the car parking arrangements in the Market / Honestone Street car park where motor bikes, that can park for free, take up full car parking spaces, on occasion three to six at a time.  The situation is exacerbated by the car park being filled to capacity.
 
54.  DEVELOPMENT WORKING GROUP
 
1. Mr Dendle spoke about a visit to the Market by the Tiverton Town / Market Manager.  
 
He reported that the Working Group had convened and discussed employing a Development Officer who would be on site every morning to manage the Market.
 
Councillor Bushby advised that should an officer be engaged with responsibility for the Market Officer their salary would have to be significantly higher, perhaps £25,000.00, to attract a quality person.  Given that the Market is not that busy it might be more realistic to combine the roles.
 
The Chairman felt the position of Event Manager, on a fixed / pro rata contract, like Tavistock, would be an option.
 
Members expressed support for the Working Groups investigation into Developing the Market.
 
2. Mr Dendle produced a Visitor Survey to be posted around the Market facility; the Representatives would be the point of collection and conduit for collation.
 
55.  OUTSIDE (SOUTH) AREA OPTIONS
 
The Members noted Councillor Hellyer’s E Mail.
 
The Market Officer to request from the PA to Meg Booth, Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure, Development & Waste, the DCC intention for the area.
 
56.  CONFIDENTIAL ITEMS TO BE TAKEN IN PART II
 
Proposed by Councillor Brenton, 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 / traders were instructed to withdraw. 
 
(Vote – For: 6, Against: 0)
 
57.  PART II (CLOSED SESSION)
 
58.  CHAIRMAN’S REPORT – CONFIDENTIAL MATTERS
 
The Chairman had no report.
 
59.  MARKET INNER DOORS
 
Members had revisited all the quotations produced during the evaluation of the Project including the comments from the Conservation Officer.
 
Members agreed that they wished to pursue the installation of new glass doors and not retain the current, heavy fire doors.
 
The Chairman noted that it was the Conservation Officer who had recommended a trip to the Tavistock Market who had worked with their Conservation Officer when removing the aged decorative doors for the present attractive and efficient glass doors.
 
The Chairman instructed Members to select the favoured quotation with a view to engaging the services subject to agreement of the Conservation Officer / Landlord. 
Proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded and
 
RESOLVED: That the Dormakaba offer is accepted subject to agreement of the Conservation Officer.  The Market Administrator to arrange a meeting between their representative and the Conservation Officer. 
(Vote – For: 6, Against: 0)
 
60.  TERMINATIONS OF LEASES /APPLICATIONS RECEIVED FOR TENANCIES OF PREMISES
 
Members noted an application received for the current storage unit 1 A.
 
The Chairman confirmed the intention to review the Unit, as a storage facility / Market Officer’s work room, following six months’ of Council use.
 
61.  UPDATE ON RENT
 
There is a confidential minute associated with this item.
 
The Chairman, having established that there was no further business to discuss, thanked the Members for their attendance and concluded the Meeting at 8.10 pm.
 

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