The Assistant Director of Operational and Commercial Services introduced a report for Members to consider the options for the reintroduction of rental charges for traders onto Gainsborough Market and the potential to use Discretionary Business Grants to support traders across the District. He explained that the report followed a paper considered by Prosperous Communities Committee in January 2021, when Members had resolved to welcome strategic work being undertaken by officers in order to understand options for the future delivery of street markets in the District. Members had also resolved to defer a decision to re-introduce rental charges for traders on Gainsborough Market to the next meeting of the Committee.
It was explained that there were two differences between the current report and the one considered by Members in January. Firstly, the initial recommendation to reintroduce rents onto the Market was scheduled for 1 April 2021. It was recognised that in order to still communicate the change effectively to stakeholders, it was now recommended that, should Members choose to re-introduce rental charges, they should be re-introduced from 1 June 2021. Secondly, an option to utilise Discretionary Business Grant funding to support regular and new traders on all Markets in West Lindsey had been introduced.
Members welcomed the suggesting of using the Discretionary Business Grant funding and were pleased to see measures being put in place to support traders. The recommendations within the report were moved and seconded. A Member of the Committee also proposed that the matter be referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in order to scrutinise the value for money of the market contract with Marshall’s Yard.
Following further discussion, an amendment to the first recommendation was moved and seconded, for the re-introduction of rental charges to take effect from 1 September 2021. On taking the vote, with 7 against and 6 for, this amendment was not carried.
Members discussed the wider consideration of markets across the district and it was confirmed that there was work underway regarding this that would be reported to the Committee in coming months. An holistic approach was being taken to consider other areas, however the paper for consideration currently was specific to the Gainsborough Market. Clarification was also sought as to how the Discretionary Business Grant funding could be used and it was confirmed that, whilst it could not be used to underwrite the rental rates, the intention was to support the traders who may not have previously benefited from the available funding.
A Member of the Committee returned to the earlier proposal for a referral to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. It was clarified that the purpose of this would be to scrutinise whether the work of the Farmers’ Markets supported or otherwise, the general markets, and whether the original objectives had been met. On being seconded and voted upon, the proposal was carried to be considered as an additional recommendation for the Committee.
A Member of the Committee subsequently requested that the recommendations be taken to the vote in two parts. Firstly to deal with recommendations 1 & 2, next to deal with recommendations 3, 4 &5. With this agreed, the Chairman took the first vote. With 8 for and 5 against it was
a) the re-introduction of rental charges on Gainsborough Market
from 1 June 2021 be approved; and
b) in recognising that further Covid Restrictions may impact on the 1 June implementation date, delegated authority be granted to the Assistant Director of Operational and Commercial Services, in consultation with the Chairman of Prosperous Communities Committee to vary the proposed implementation date in such circumstances. (All Members to be notified if the delegation is enacted).
The Chairman then undertook the second vote and it was unanimously
c) the proposal to utilise Discretionary Business Grants to support regular and new traders on Gainsborough General Market, Gainsborough Farmers Market, Market Rasen Market and Caistor Market be approved; and
d) the Discretionary Business Grants Policy to support regular and new traders be agreed under the urgent delegated decision provision afforded to the Head of Paid Service, in consultation with the two Policy Committee Chairmen and the Leader of the Opposition, in line with other decisions made around Business Grants during the pandemic; and
e) a referral be made to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to undertake a piece of work around support for the general market in Gainsborough alongside the Farmers’ Market.