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Burton Market Hall free stall plans would cost £100,000 say council chiefs

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 25, 2014

By Rob Smyth

Comments (7)

PROPOSALS to offer stallholders six month free in Burton's refurbished Market Hall would cost taxpayers more than £100,000, according to council chiefs.

Bosses at East Staffordshire Borough Council revealed the figure in a response to a suggestion by Burton MP Andrew Griffiths that the incentive should be offered to traders in a bid to fill up the site following a £1.6 million revamp.

After a visit to the hall, Mr Griffiths came up with a list of ideas to help make the market a success and sent to bosses at the authority.

In a letter to Mr Griffiths, council chief executive Andy O'Brien said: "I am sure you will appreciate that we have already entered into commercial agreements with the traders.

"My officers are in constant discussions with prospective new tenants.

"Since the opening day there have been, on average, three pop-up stalls per day with the number growing week on week.

"In terms of traders, we currently have seven tenants trading from fixed unit shops and restaurants and another three tenants moving in over the coming weeks."

The new traders will include a sandwich shop and a new cafe.

The council boss also responded to Mr Griffith's plea for more to be done to promote the business via social network sites by saying that the authority was already doing so.

Mr O'Brien added: "The Market Hall has undergone a tremendous redevelopment and the project team has been working tirelessly to entice new tenants into the vacant units as well as organise events throughout the coming months."

Mr Griffiths said: "We all want to make Burton Market Hall a success.

"I now call on the council to come up with some better ideas and help fill the hall and help it thrive.

"We need to do all that we can to ensure that it is a success for the town.

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7 comments

  • wendyanne  |  July 29 2014, 9:02PM

    The day the head of finance made the decision to split the market up, which was agreed upon by the councillor above him, which was not questioned by any member of the cabinet except for one, who said that he had better be right about this. Was the day it went terribly devastatingly wrong.

  • mattlong  |  July 25 2014, 2:13PM

    I certainly agree with the both of you (Andy and funk) about the fragmentation issues. Also Andy's point about apologising when mistakes in good faith are made is a good one. I have had to do this to several people who attended the mental health event this week and I think rather than people holding it against you they respect you more, I think our politicians locally could learn more about just holding their hands up at times and apologising. I think it would engender a more politically progressive culture focussing more on issues rather than personality clashes. Its good the pair of you have moved the debate on forward with your comments rather than me logging on to read idiotic comments about Julian Mott, Andrew Griffiths or Richard Grosvenor.

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  • funkcity  |  July 25 2014, 1:31PM

    The way forward is for the council to find a way to attract new tenants and customers in a way that costs the council tax payer the least. Andrew Griffiths plan would work to get new tenants in, though would depend on the figures making sense. I imagine part of the reluctance by the council is that they are already taking rents for the stalls they are letting. It would need to be backed up with ways to get customers in as there's no point having sellers without punters. I've tried to use the new market myself, but there was nothing I wanted to buy. It would be good to see some events in the market hall such as antiques markets, famers markets, French continental markets or Vintage markets. All of these do well in other towns. I would say that a big part of the cause of the problem is the fragmentation of the original market into Station Street, the removal of the fruit & veg stalls outside the market hall, which did attract shoppers, and the other tenants moving permanently to the Octagon. Perhaps the Station Street stalls should be brought back to the Market Place or into the market to bring the focus of the market back. I just hope that something gets dome soon as we don't want to lose such a valuable resource.

  • AndyBettridge  |  July 25 2014, 1:09PM

    When I was back home last week (back from sunny blackpool) , someone described the market situation as like the Bemuda Triangle, with the market hall, the station street traders and traders also in the octagan all located in different places. I think the Council's problem is that the market has become fragmented. If someone visiting the town asked you where the market in town was, there wouldn't be one single place you could direct them to as "Burton market" because it's scattered all over the place. Also the previous administration's decision to move traders to Station Street angered a lot of people, it's still a toxic issue and the poor way they were treated by the council is still very fresh in people's minds. Maybe as a way of moving forward, an apology from the previous controlling group and admitting they got things wrong over the market would be a start. At least it may begin to heal some of the strained relations between the council and traders.

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  • mattlong  |  July 25 2014, 10:08AM

    So what is the way FORWARD? Are we saying Andrew Griffith's plan would work? Has it been wrongly costed? Has it been wrongly dismissed? I want Julian Mott and the team to succeed and again we may have Richard Grosvenor back in charge of the council next year (who knows after May 2015). So what is the way FORWARD?

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  • funkcity  |  July 25 2014, 10:01AM

    Without traders you haven't got a market! It would be interesting to see how they get to the £100K cost figure. If the cost is only through loss of what they would get from the rents if they were actually renting all of the stalls, then it's only a cost on paper. I can't believe that the existing stalls in the market pay £100k rent in 6 months. If they do they won't be in business for long! £100,000 is less than 10% of the total cost of the revamp (which has been done really well). Surely some budget should have been saved for a relaunch or a promotion to get the traders back in? Why does the council insist on shooting itself in the foot by completing this wonderful project, but then leave it to die?

  • mattlong  |  July 25 2014, 7:48AM

    Ok then, so questions have understandably been asked by Julian Mott about the process in terms of the way in which Andrew Griffiths went about raising his proposal. Some felt he went directly to the press rather than following due process whereas others felt well who really cares. Having worked with Andrew I'm well aware he is an 'ideas man' and certainly the substance of his proposal was well worthy of consideration by Andy O'Brien. Whilst the proposal appears to be being rejected due to the costings as specified what now needs to happen is for neither the Labour led council nor Andrew himself to claim a 'victory' over this. Andrew now needs to follow the due process and work directly with the leader of the council Julian Mott, who I have tremendous respect for, on this matter. In short this needs to be the start rather than the termination of a more open and productive dialogue between the two. The alternative is to follow the status quo and keep in line with the regressive party political culture which we have in Burton in my opinion and for Andrew to claim that the council 'didn't listen' and for the council to counter claim that it was a 'draft idea' in the first place. Here's hoping we can move beyond those binaries.

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