SERVING THE NATION’S TRADERS SINCE 1922 JULY 20 - AUGUST 2, 2018 Radical plans to revive indoor market

It has been recognised that drastic action is going to have to be taken to revive the fortunes of a fading market in a South Wales town. With that in mind, new stallholders joining Bridgend Indoor Market will be offered the chance to rent stalls at around half the cost of current rents, while existing stal lholders wi l l get a significant rent reduction until at least April 2020. Cabinet Members from Bridgend County Borough Council agreed the rent reductions last month, and also approved a range of other proposals that are intended to attract new businesses to fill the market’s empty stalls. Lease terms will become

more flexible, while other proposals include installing new signs and displays, and creating an open “central market square” with a play area, children’s rides, seating, temporary pop-up stalls, cultural events and ad hoc events such as trade and craft fairs. Cllr Charles Smith, the council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education, said: “Last winter, we granted existing traders a 15 percent rent rebate, but a further four stalls have vacated since March and no replacement tenants have been found. “Everyone agrees that we

have to take radical action to bring the buzz and vibrancy back to the indoor market. This decline cannot continue.” The council owns a 99-year leasehold interest in Bridgend Indoor Market, located in the town’s Rhiw Shopping Centre, and has another 53 years of the term remaining. It pays an annual rent of

£133k to the owners of the shopping centre, and when running expenses, service charges and rates are taken into account, it costs the council around £368,000 a year to run the indoor market. Current traders pay a total

of £174,000 in rent, so the forecast deficit for 2018/19 is £194,000. But with 44 percent of the stalls currently lying vacant

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The Rhiw Shopping Centre, home of Bridgend Indoor Market (Photo: Mick Lobb)

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Bridgend, South Wales (Photo: Mark R Nash)

and the risk of vacancies increasing further, the gap between the income the council receives and the cost of running the market is widening. One of the main reasons

cited by traders for leaving the indoor market is the relatively high cost of the rent when compared with other markets and retail units. Cllr Smith said: “While we

need to be mindful of our own leasehold costs, we believe that it would be more fruitful to lower rents and fill the vacant stalls which in turn would generate more income in the long run.

“Watts & Morgan, our

agents who are marketing the stall spaces, will be able to attract new traders by offering initial rents at up to 52 percent of the current level. We are aiming for this incentive to help boost the number of occupied stalls back up to at least 85 percent. “Generating more footfall

will of course be beneficial for existing traders, who will themselves receive a rent reduction of 25 percent from 1 July onwards but will retain their prime trading spots.” Market traders are also in agreement with relaxing the

current lease terms which prevent new traders from selling products that are already on sale elsewhere in the indoor market, such as two butchers or two flower stalls. Traders are now open

to lifting these restraints, accepting that more potential customers visiting the market is good for everyone’s business. Cllr Smith added: “This

plan is the result of a close working partnership between the council, market traders, the Rhiw Shopping Centre, Bridgend Town Council, the CF31 business improvement group, local elected members and more. “It recognises a number of

difficult truths and presents a series of realistic, viable proposals, while also making it clear that it is not enough to expect the council to turn things around on its own. “The recent trader-led craft

fair initiative with council support is a good example of this combined approach. “We all have a part to play,

from us making the market as pleasant a place to visit as possible, to ultimately the traders selling products that customers want. “With the support of local

residents, I have every hope that we can make a great success of the market if we all work together.”

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