Minutes of the Market Management Committee held in the Town Hall on Thursday 9 December 2021 at 6.30 pm
Councillor D Bushby
Councillor J McKenzie
Councillor C Hawkins
Councillor D Ratcliff
Ms E Hilton
Ms M Hurford
Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Mr C Farris (Development Officer)
65. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer (East Ward – personal).
66. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND ANY REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA
There were no declarations of interest.
67. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION
There were no public members present.
Proposed by Councillor Bushby and seconded by Councillor Ratcliff, that the Minutes of the Meeting held on 11 November 2021 were approved and signed as a correct record.
(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0)
It was proposed by Councillor McKenzie seconded, and
RESOLVED: That the lists of payments for 9 December 2021 be approved.
(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0)
70. CHAIRMAN’S / MARKET ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT
The Mayor took the opportunity to request a sign be installed in the Market Hall directing visitors to the Café.
The Clerk indicated that there were three signs deployed at the southern entrance to the Hall, at the Market Place entrance and in Butcher’s Row.
The Mayor intimated that there was nothing in the Hall and a sign, not necessarily in Corporate Colours, should be hung from above; the Chairman indicated support for the initiative.
71. DEVELOPMENT OFFICER.
a. Update. The Development Officer gave a presentation which is enclosed and forms part of these Minutes.
Members discussed the role of the Market Officer, the importance of clear communication with all stakeholders, responsibilities and the opportunity to provide training (and mentoring) in customer relations.
b. Additional Late Night trading event. The Development Officer confirmed a commitment to thirteen tables, following canvassing, for the night of Thursday, 16 December 2021. Ms Hurford indicated that three tenants had confirmed and nine had indicated not from the Butcher’s Row / Market Place Shop Units.
c. Additional Christmas Eve Market Trading Day. The Development Officer indicated that there was not the interest / commitment for a Market Trading Day on Christmas Eve.
72. DRAFT BUDGET 2022/3
(Councillor Ratcliff left the Meeting but returned in time for the Vote.)
a. Draft Budget 2021 – 2022.
Members had previously had sight of the Draft Budget Document.
The Chairman indicated that anything less than an increase of 5% would see the Market operating at a loss.
Discussion points included keeping pace with inflation, the opportunity for increased income through the staging of events, maintenance of the building, unjustified profligate use of expensive Market Hall gas heaters (Market Hall tenants can heat their own Unit areas) and sharp rental increases against better managed measured increments.
Proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded by Councillor Bushby and
RECOMMENDED: That the Draft Market Budget 2022/2023 be supported by the Council.
(Vote: – For: 3, Against: 1)
b. Market Place / Butcher’s Row / Market Hall finance proposal.
Members had previously had sight of the Document (which is enclosed and forms part of these Minutes) at the Meeting held in November 2021.
The Development Officer reiterated that it would be good for the Market Hall and Butcher’s Row tenants in budgeting and planning for Events.
Proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded by Councillor Hawkins and
RESOLVED: That the Budget Proposal for the Market Place / Butcher’s Row / Market Hall (Annual Events) is supported.
(Vote: – For: 4, Against: 0)
c. Rent Review.
Proposed by Councillor McKenzie and seconded by Councillor Bushby, it was
RECOMMENDED: That a rental increase of five per cent be implemented effective 1 April 2022; the resultant tariffs are either rounded up, or down, to the nearest pound. That each tenant / trader is advised accordingly. The Daily Casual Table rate will be fixed at nine pounds.
(Vote – For: 3, Against: 1)
73. TENANT / TRADER REPORT
Ms Hilton had received a complaint from a Market Hall Tenant regarding the commitment of the Market Hall Tenants. They had expressed disappointment and frustration that over a two month period many chose to leave at 2.00 pm and on some days only one Unit would be open.
The Chairman noted that the Tenancy Agreement provided for a commitment to core hours.
The Clerk indicated that Tenants did provide detail of absences through leave, sickness, outside commitments and, under the present climate, isolation. The formal trading days are Tuesdays and Saturdays with the Wednesday to Friday period providing an opportunity for creative work and sales.
Ms Hilton reiterated that the Heating must be addressed; the Heating can not simply be run at such expense especially given the rental increase.
The Clerk indicated that the Committee in the past had resolved upon two one hour bursts
any further duration at the discretion of the Market Officer. He noted that there had been a demand from a trader for heating on 2 October 2021!
The Chairman made reference to a thermostat control but agreed the Market Officer should manage the Heating in accordance with the diktat.
Ms Hurford expressed her concern that the Minutes did not reflect her in a good light and that a valid point or idea had not been recorded.
The Chairman advised that the Minutes were not a verbatim record of all that had been discussed.
Councillor Bushby stated that the Minutes should record the item and resolution; he felt that the Clerk’s Minutes were too long.
Both the Chairman and Councillor Bushby made reference to the District Councils’ sparing records.
74. 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)
75. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT
There is a confidential minute associated with this item.
76. UNIT DOOR QUOTATIONS
There is a confidential minute associated with this item.
77. TENANT / TRADER
There is a confidential minute associated with this item.
78. RETURN TO STANDING ORDERS
Proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded and
RESOLVED: That the meeting returns to Standing Orders.
(Vote For: 4, Against: 0)
The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 8.30 pm.
Bideford Pannier Market – Development Officer 6 month summary
Key Duties – Role of the Development Officer: *taken from job description
• Increase overall awareness of Bideford Pannier Market within the local community and to visitors
• Communicate effectively what the Pannier Market is, what it offers and how to access the various elements
• Increase overall footfall to Market Square
• Increase the number of traders on Market Days
• Deliver and support events and initiatives
• Explore funding opportunities
• Evaluate effectiveness of marketing methods
• Increase customer satisfaction
• Market administration
• Be the ‘face of the market’
• Promote community involvement
To work towards these aims, the Development Officer had to:
• Undertake a strategic approach which looks at the bigger picture
• Understand the whole Market dynamic – different sections, how they interact, how they operate
• How the Market was perceived from the outside
• The varying views and opinions from permanent tenants and market traders and their aspirations
• How the Market has been evolving over time
• Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
• Understand Market administration, policies, procedures, historically how things are run within a Council context
• Understand how events work, both existing and future and their impact on trading
Summary of Activity
Increase awareness and communicate effectively what the Pannier Market is:
• Tricky to accurately measure, but significant progress has been made in raising awareness of the Pannier Market within the community. As well as highly effective digital communication channels, traditional promotional methods have been implemented such as press releases, radio interviews and leaflet distribution. Community events have also been extremely popular. Accurate, consistent information is now being disseminated across all platforms to let people know what the different aspects of the Market building and businesses are and how to plan a visit.
• Statistics on social media and Google have been very promising indeed. *see page 6
• There have been 70 enquiries for Market stall trading since May and 31 expressions of interest for renting units.
• To Do – next steps will be signage in town and in the Market. Also populate a website (238 people have visited the website www.bidefordpanniermarket.co.uk in the last quarter from our Google listing with zero promotion). We need to capitalize on this to make the Market more visible/easily found online and showcase its businesses and services.
Increase overall footfall to the Market:
• Again, very hard to measure given that we have no footfall recording (I’ve looked into this, but cost is prohibitive). However, with the number of people attending events and a sharp increase in traders on Market days it is highly likely that footfall is increasing month on month.
• Footfall is a slow burner and is very much linked to awareness. There is a big buzz building towards Christmas and we will be in an excellent position going into next spring.
Increase the number of traders on Market days:
• Interest in trading on Market days is steadily increasing (even going into winter). For example, 20 new trader requests were received through October alone. This is continuing in November and December. Early digital promotion to attract traders got the ball rolling and continued communication is working *see P 10
• It is hoped to build on this momentum going into spring 2022
Deliver and support events and initiatives:
• Between September and December 31st 2021 there have been/are 14 events happening at Bideford Pannier Market. Many of these are tenant led and 3 funded and organized through the Welcome Back Fund. There have also been a few externally organized events.
• The events are varied and attract different audiences. So far, they have been very well attended.
• Outside of the Welcome Back Events, the Development Officer’s role has been to facilitate and promote tenant led events as well as help coordinate externally led events as well as promote the Hall as an events space.
• The Development Officer is beginning to plan Town Council led events for 2022.
Explore funding opportunities:
• The Development Officer conceived, planned and secured £10.5k in funding from the Welcome Back Fund to run 3 events in Bideford. Through careful planning these were all able to be based at the Pannier Market with 2 events directly supporting the tenants (the 3rd event, a family fun day, was more community focused and offered free activities to hundreds of locals and visitors).
• Further funding streams will be explored for events in 2022
Evaluate effectiveness of marketing methods:
• Unfortunately, this is tricky regarding traditional marketing such as press releases, leaflets and radio. However, digital marketing can be evaluated by using insights. *More on this on page 6. I did have a flurry of trader requests after my stint on BBC Radio Devon.
• Unifying the Pannier Market brand is ongoing and will solidify as the website begins to develop
• We have the same photograph heading our social media accounts with unified information and message. The existing logo doesn’t quite work on these platforms, but this will be given more thought as we move forwards.
• It is hoped to meet with a graphic designer soon to complete some signage, so there will be a further discussion around branding then.
Increase customer satisfaction:
• One of the main ways to increase customer satisfaction is to manage expectations and communicate effectively what the customer is coming to see and how they can interact with the Pannier Market space and people. We are doing this via traditional and digital marketing, disseminating a unified message. This includes simple things such as opening times, market/non-market days and type of event being hosted
• One way of seeing instant visitor feedback is via online reviews. I regularly check our TripAdvisor and Google reviews (we now own and manage these services). TripAdvisor is a mixed bag, but Google reviews have become much more positive with numerous 4 + 5 star reviews in the last couple of months *see page 8
• One thing to take from the reviews is mentioned above; if people come for one thing and find another then this can trigger a negative experience. Hopefully, now that we have a unified message these incidences will be less
• The tenants and stall holders have a huge impact on customer satisfaction. In every case where they are mentioned reviews have been positive.
• As 95% of Market enquiries now come in electronically (via Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram messages, website form and email), I am now the main point of contact for most market enquiries, whether it be for studios/units to rent, new stall holders, Hall hire or general enquiries.
• This means that it makes sense for me to manage the enquiries from start to finish at this stage (it had the potential to get a little confusing between Richard and I). So now I gather all the information, process the documentation, answer enquiries and maintain email contact as well as liaise with the Market Officer.
• Due to the high number of recent stall holder and studio enquiries I have developed a new system as well as streamlined the information given out.
• I plan to streamline the whole process further and at some point I’d like to move to an Excel spreadsheet to manage and keep track of traders etc. Ideally this could be shared and updated live between Town Council staff to ensure that we have everything recorded.
Be the face of the Market:
• The Development Officer is the ‘outward facing’ face of the Market. Their role is to engage with the wider audience in the execution of the aim to increase awareness of the Market Complex and subsequently footfall. This is both in person, for example on radio, press interviews, phone calls or meetings and virtually in the digital world.
• In the digital world for example, the Development Officer is contacted and communicates with the audience in the following ways:
• Social media - Facebook and Instagram (the audience can either leave comments on posts which I respond to or message me directly).
• WhatsApp – becoming much more prevalent. I can choose to add the WhatsApp button to selected social media posts for quick messaging and to expand the messaging options. It can be added to website in the future.
• Email – my email is attached to the Facebook page and on the Town Council and BidefordPannierMarket.co.uk websites
• Google Business Page – I can answer questions as well as reviews.
• In the world of instant messaging the public often expects instant replies. I try to monitor communication channels 7 days a week and will answer messages, comments and enquiries when the come in.
• There has been a suggestion that I should be the ‘face of the Market’ to the tenants at the Market. I suggest that that this is the role of the Market Officer. My role is much more strategic and far reaching. Tenants know exactly where I am and how to contact me should they wish. I try to visit the market when I can, but with limited time each week it’s often not possible on a regular basis
• Aside from bringing the local community back into the Market on Market days (or evenings), several free events have been held (and are planning to be held) in the Market. These have been very well attended and feedback has been good. We aim to hold more community events in the future and plan events which engage the local community!
When I started in late April, there were no established communication channels to disseminate unified information about the Pannier Market, it’s businesses, services or events. We now have those channels which act as a useful tool to build awareness of the Market and make it a shopping destination (and visitor destination in its own right).
The challenge was to attempt to build an audience to increase footfall at the same time as encouraging new traders on Market days (as well as making sure that events were well attended). It was clear that this was a ‘chicken and egg’ situation; the Market traders won’t come without the visitors and the visitors won’t come without the Market traders.
My first round of communication highlighted the Pannier Market building, Market Square, businesses and food offering as a destination worth visiting, in its own right, to increase footfall. This was followed by a campaign in June to attract traders. Then the communication campaign worked on both of these aims in tandem to keep them growing at the same time.
We have definitely had a huge increase in the amount of people wishing to trade on Market days. As mentioned before, footfall is tricky to measure but there do appear to be more and more people visiting the Market.
Now that we have more trader interest, we can keep the momentum building. Of course, winter is traditionally a quieter period at the Market, but we are making the most of Christmas to bring more people there.
We will be in a strong position moving into the spring and early next summer.
When I have time, I will look at writing a strategic plan to give the Market development some direction going forward. However, this will take a lot of time due to the necessity for consultation etc.
In the shorter term I will continue to dedicate my time to raising awareness of the Market, facilitating and planning events, consolidating our communication platforms and making our weekly markets successful.
Minute number. 72.b.
Budget Proposal – Annual Market Events
To provide a ringfenced budget to support tenant led events and activities within Bideford Pannier Market. Budget to come from the Development Officer annual budget.
Historically, tenants have hosted a variety of themed Market days and other events (mainly in the Market Hall). There has been an understanding that some budget (from the overall Market budget) was available to support these days to pay for things such as materials and entertainment. Requests were made following the event to the Deputy Town Clerk for any reasonable expenses and these were then paid. Some discussion took place before the events as to what was planned and rough costs. The arrangement was fairly informal as there were just a few events and sums requested were relatively small.
The Market Hall events were generally held to support the Market days Tuesday and Saturday to increase awareness and footfall, thus bringing more people to the Market building as a whole. These events included Pirate Day, Halloween themed Market and Christmas events among others.
More recently (August 2021) Butcher’s Row and Market Place tenants have put on late night shopping evenings. Initially these were exclusive to these areas and did not include Market Hall. They included live music, alcohol samples and sales, free nibbles and paid for food offerings from tenants and outside caterers.
Held on Thursdays (every week in August, now monthly), these late night shopping evenings proved popular and encouraged people to the Pannier Market outside of normal trading hours. After a few evening Markets, the traders in Market Hall were keen to open the hall for the evening alongside Market Place and Butcher’s Row. This has happened with a good level of success and has also attracted a number of new stall traders in.
It is hoped to carry on with the whole Pannier Market opening late on a Thursday once a month throughout the year and possibly once a week in peak season.
There have been some teething problems following the launch of regular late night shopping events, mainly around uncertainty over what level of financial support is forthcoming from Bideford Town Council and what exactly can be supported. Due to this uncertainty, it has been difficult for tenants to plan events effectively and to manage financial risk to themselves (paying out for things and not being 100% sure that they’ll be reimbursed). With the Market Hall joining in on Thursdays and with an increase in the amount of events at the Market the situation needs to be addressed to enable proper planning ahead within a known, fixed budget (also with some clarity as to what can be supported and what can’t). This will help to alleviate any tension between tenants and the Town Council with regards to reimbursement (tenants felt like they were going ‘cap in hand’ to the Town Council to ask for funds to be released).
Currently, the Deputy Clerk has been receiving requests to pay for products or activities from tenants at random, often without prior knowledge that they were planned. Again, due to the nature of public funds it is standard practice and the Deputy Clerk’s responsibility to find out more about any budget spend and exercise due diligence before releasing any funds.
It is envisaged that with a ringfenced tenant event budget and tenants knowing exactly how much financial support they have for a year they will have much more confidence to be able to plan events in advance in the knowledge that expenditure will be reimbursed.
Town Council money is public money, and so any spend must comply with rules and guidance and be subject to due diligence. As such there will need to be an element of scrutiny over spend (tenants letting the Town Council know well in advance what they are planning to spend the money on to get agreement). If the Town Council are aware of planned activities/actions well in advance then they can continue to support and facilitate these events effectively and ensure that the relevant paperwork is in place (risk assessments, Temporary Events Notices, Terms and Conditions etc).
There also appears to be a disconnect between Market Place/Butcher’s Row and the Market Hall with regard to joint planning of events. Therefore it is probably best to keep the two sections separate and have two budgets; one for each area.
Value of the Budget
It is proposed to ringfence £1,200 per year for each area (Market Place/Butcher’s Row and Market Hall) totaling £2,400 of the Development Officer’s £7k budget (leaving £4,600).
As with pretty much all public funding, it is envisaged that there will be an element of match funding from the tenants to ‘top up’ the Town Council funds if needed. This is standard practice in the funding world and allows multiple entities to come together and contribute towards a common goal. Usual match funding rates are between 50% - 25% match. This is already happening to a degree in the Pannier Market with tenants contributing small amounts towards event costs. It will be up to the tenants to set their match funding rate and organise how it is managed. In all likelihood nearer 25% than 50%. This will not be monitored and at the discretion of tenants collectively.
Guidelines for Town Council Tenant Budget Spend
- Deputy Clerk to ringfence £2,400 of the Development Officer’s budget each year (£1,200 for Butcher’s Row and Market Place and £1,200 for Market Hall).
- Delegated authority on spend up to £200 per item given to Deputy Clerk Richard Coombes, Market Management Committee Chair Jamie McKenzie and Development Officer Chris Farris to avoid decisions having to go to Market Management Committee
- A designated tenant representative and deputy to be point of contact between the Market areas (all tenants in that particular location, preferably existing Market reps) and Town Council.
- A designated tenant representative to keep track of budget spend *the Town Council will keep track too, but it will be a good idea if tenants know how much money is available to them at any given time to help them plan
- Tenants to inform the Deputy Clerk about proposed events and planned spend well in advance (preferably 3 weeks). Any single significant spend above £200 can be added to the ‘payment list’ if necessary, or agreement reached with Market Management Committee *this will need a longer lead in time to fit in with Market Management Meetings.
- No alcohol to be purchased with money from this budget (can be purchased with match funding) *the purchase of alcohol is frowned upon using public money unless for a very specific civic purposes
- Preferably, suppliers will invoice the Town Council directly to avoid tenants being ‘out of pocket’.
- Inform the Town Council as far in advance as possible as to what activities and events are planned so that the Town Council can facilitate and support the events effectively by ensuring the relevant checks and balances are in place (risk assessments, Temporary Events Notices, Terms and Conditions etc where necessary).
- Where a supplier is unable to invoice the Town Council directly, tenants must pay for the service/product and claim the money back. They must provide a receipt to be reimbursed.
- The Town Council reserves the right to refuse funding if it is deemed unsuitable. This is why early communication around event planning is essential.