Report number: OAS/WS/22/008
The Chair of the Markets Review Working Group, Councillor John Burns presented report number OAS/WS/22/008, which set out the findings and proposed recommendations attached at Appendix A.
The Review Group was set up in November 2020 to look at the strategic role of the markets; aligning the operation of the markets to the council’s strategic vision and supporting their development to meet the corporate priorities.
The Review Group sought collectively to uncover a wide range of views and experiences from other quarters and commissioned a detailed piece of engagement work which included a tailor-made survey of all the different groups and stakeholders involved with markets. There were seven different groups identified and a survey was created for each market day at each town.
In addition to the survey, the Review Group interviewed “expert witnesses” who brought a different perspective to the review. This included two representatives from the National Market Traders Federation who were very complimentary about the work being done on our markets, particular with regard to the encouragement of young traders.
The review of the baseline information; the feedback from the engagement work; evidence of best practice from elsewhere; and the site visit to Saffron Walden helped to shape the findings of the Review Group.
In essence, the Review Group did not reach any conclusions that would suggest a fundamental change in the way the markets in West Suffolk were configured or operated. Instead, the Review Group identified approaches and enhancements that could build on the existing work in order to support the markets to grow and improve in the future.
Attached at Appendix A to the report was the proposed recommendations which were split into five key themes. The Committee was asked to endorse the recommendations and recommend the findings to Cabinet for approval.
The Committee considered the report and proposed recommendations and asked questions to which responses were provided.
In response to a question raised relating to the desire to move markets to town councils to operate, Councillor Burns advised that every market and town was unique in its own way. The Review Group had engaged with town councils and there was a desire by one town council to look at operating the market. No decisions had been made and it was open for further discussion.
In response to a question raised regarding supporting young people to trade on markets. Councillor Burns advised that the council already had measures to support and encourage young market traders and more events were planned for July 2022 in Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill to help young traders get on to the ladder.
In response to a question raised relation to action point 7 in Appendix A regarding markets being financially self-sufficient, Councillor Burns informed members that the Review Group had looked at the costs of each market. The outcome was Bury St Edmunds market was more self-sufficient than the other markets. The Review Group looked at the overall budget to see whether the council should continue to subsidise those markets which were less self-sufficient. The proposal was for each market to become self-sufficient by understanding the current costs for each market.
Councillor Pugh informed the Committee that Clare’s market had transformed, but there were issues with parking. She felt that new traders needed a mentor and suggested that the Markets Development Officer should wear a high visibility vest so they could be identified whilst on the market. In response officers explained that there was support available for new traders and points of contact in place for mentoring.
In response to a question raised about traders needing more clarity in who they needed to report to, Councillor Burns explained that this was a known problem, and was set out in the report. The Markets Development Officer had also produced a crib sheet setting out who they needed to contact to resolve any issues, and officers would be looking at the whole reporting structure for market traders.
It was then proposed by Councillor Patrick Chung, seconded by Councillor Margaret Marks, and with the vote being unanimous it was:
That Cabinet be recommended to approve the proposed recommendations attached at Appendix A to Report number OAS/WS/22/008.