To consider the report of the Director (RB) (reference 19/071) attached
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (RB) (Reference 19/071) in respect of a review of Whitby Market. Members were advised that following an initial review, a number of immediate actions were enacted in the summer of 2018 to ensure compliance with regulations as detailed in the report. An extensive consultation process was then undertaken with market traders, the business community and members of the public on how to improve the appearance, viability and sustainability of the market. A petition had also been received by the Council requesting that market trading days and hours remain unchanged and not reduced to two days a week. Members’ attention was drawn to paragraph 4.7 of the report which should read 7000 combined signatories from a paper as well as online petition, of which some 650 had self-identified as being from the Whitby area. The review’s aim was to ensure the market operation was compliant with procedures, and was placed on a sustainable footing moving forward. The report set out proposals and recommendations that attempted to strike a reasonable balance between the very different views and competing needs of local residents, visitors, established local businesses and market traders, and to identify the best options to fulfil the review’s aims. It was recommended therefore that with effect from 15April:-
Further, the report set out a number of recommendations in relation to electricity supplies and lighting, and concerning how the Borough Council could engage and work collaboratively with Whitby Town Council moving forward, including discussions on the redevelopment potential of the Old Town Hall. The Director, Mr Bradley thanked the Regeneration Officer, Kerry Levitt for a challenging and lengthy piece of work.
With the permission of the Chairman, public speaker, Mrs Anne Marshall then addressed the meeting. Mrs Marshall, the organiser of the petition, expressed her dismay at the recommendation in the report to reduce the number of market days, contending that it would put her and other traders’ livelihoods at risk and failed to take account of the significant visitor economy in Whitby and the large numbers of visitors who supported her views by signing her petition, which in total numbered some 7000, not 700 signatories as stated in the report. She added that the timing of the Council’s consultation process and use of a public questionnaire outside the main season meant that this visitor perspective had not been properly taken into account. Therefore, Mrs Marshall asked the Cabinet to consider her alternative proposals for the future management of the market. In reply, Mr Bradley confirmed that the Council had received an alternative proposal to run the market as a cooperative, but it was not considered to be a viable proposition. He acknowledged the difficulty in balancing the different views and interests of market holders, residents and other stakeholders, but felt that the recommendations in the report achieved this and put the market on a sustainable footing for the future. The Portfolio Holder for Public Health and Housing, Councillor Chatt reiterated Mr Bradley’s latter comment, noting the diversity of views evidenced at the two consultation meetings with stakeholders, and defending the robustness of the consultation process. Cabinet Member and ward Councillor Turner noted that this was a difficult decision for the Cabinet but one which reflected a balanced and holistic view of the market. In reply to a Member’s question, Mr Bradley commented that increasing the number of market days as requested by the petition would be to the detriment of other activities and interests such as the café operators.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet:
1. Approve the recommended operational changes to Whitby market including revised trading activity, regulations and agreements.
2. Authorise officers to undertake feasibility studies to enhance the facilities and image of Whitby market.
3. Authorise Officers to begin dialogue with Whitby Town Council and other stakeholders with regards to the future management of Whitby market.
4. Authorise Officers to work with Whitby Town Council to explore and secure funding options for the old Town Hall building
1. To achieve clearly defined operational parameters for Whitby market
2. To improve the visual appearance and attractiveness of Whitby market for traders, residents and visitors alike