promises broken on rent freeze in West Bromwich’. The target of trader ire is

Sandwell Borough Council or whatever name was dreamt up all those years ago for these Midlands authorities – the operator of said gaff. Source of the discontent? The withdrawal of a 25% rent reduction aimed at apparently both attracting new traders and enabling existing workers to cope until the extra footfall generated by the extra traders appeared. To add insult to injury there’ll also be a 2% increase making tenants a massive 27% worse off overnight. Computer games trader representative

and tenant

Paul King, who’s been on the market for ten years, told local media that traders now feel they are being ignored by the council.

He said: “The council has

done us over big style. We have been faithfully promised by the council on at least a dozen occasions that the rent won’t go back up until footfall came back into this market and that hasn’t happened and that why we feel let down because we believed that every step of the way.” In reply Sandwell Council has said it was made clear when the fee discount was applied that this was a tempo- rary measure only and would cease once the council had decided that it was feasible redevelop the market.

A statement came from Councillor Bob Lloyd. By the way collectors of the most stupid portfolio titles will want to stick this one in their album of hilarity. He goes under the appellation of member for ‘inclusive economic growth’. Anyway he had this to say: “The cabinet has made it clear that the council is committed to continuing with the indoor market as a valuable local shopping facility but we can only do this if it can compete in the retail market place.

“We have done what we can to help traders with trade discounts but the council is also under pressure due to years of continual cut backs and must be able to operate without incurring significant losses.”

And to be fair the council

has been nothing if not transparent. In February the cabinet agreed to keep the incentive until 30th April after which there’d be a phased return to standard stall rents by reducing the discount to 10% for a further six months until 31st October 2019.

Or Daventry calling Mind you staying in the Midlands another council has decided that the best incentive is to let


work free of charge. We’re in Daventry best known perhaps as the location of one of the oldest BBC transmitters and about as close as you can get

to the geographical centre of the UK. The gaff

is an

FEATURE 15 old

established one back in the hands of the authority since 2018 and by the sounds of it struggling. A recent strategic report seen, by this column, talks of the number of market stalls having slowly declined – due to the usual factors. New traders have been attracted but with the exception of one have not been able to make sufficient profit to make it worthwhile to continue. Occupancy is at eight traders on the Tuesday and five on Fridays. Rents are £13.45 for ten foot frontage on Tuesday and £15.95 on Friday. Despite this downbeat assessment the council sees the Daventry markets as ‘an important part of the identity of the town and surrounding area’. But it reckons: ‘With the decline in footfall and high street trading to continue to charge market traders is likely to result in the demise of the market in the near future.’ Given the circumstances

it’s been proposed that that the Council should cease levying a charge to trade at Daventry market. Whilst there was no guarantee that making the market free will ensure traders stay, it should make this more likely bosses think. They’re prepared to take the £20,000 budget hit.

Millsy’s View In the case of West Bromwich

... what we’ve been dong for years!

I really do sympathise with the traders. No one wants to pay out more money. But in truth it’s an old and too familiar story of well meaning short-sightedness. Over the past two decades this column has had plenty to say about all sorts of trader rent incentives mainly that they always end in tears. And so it is again here. Agreed the discount has stabilised the current market occupancy rate, or at least that’s the councils view. But there is a void rate of 32% compared with an historical rate of 10% – seen as the standard level due to the normal ‘churn’ of workers. There has been no net

increase in traders for over 12 months despite the discount. I urge councils to think twice when contemplating such measures. Any potential worker offered a 25% incentive is immediately going to ask why? Applied across the board all that’s happening is strife stored up for the future when the concession has to end. People get used to a lower overhead. When things change inevitably you get unhelpful publicity and usually no long term benefit for anybody. You might even end up with an emptier gaff. Just saying.

As for Daventry I consider this is maybe the most

remarkable story to come across my desk probably forever. There will be traders who are amazed that it’s still possible to work for £1.34 a foot. There will be others who thunder that if you can’t afford £15 a day you haven’t got a business. There will be others who wonder if there is any future in a market which can’t support even these generously low rentals. For me though the

question is a moral one. Quite simply should anyone ever be allowed to stand a market pitch and, one supposes, take enough gelt to make it worthwhile turning up without paying some kind of toll? I simply ask.

Barrow Market Hall

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday

Number of Stalls/Units: Indoor 120, Outdoor 24

Barrow Market Hall, 28 Duke Street, Barrow-In-Furness, Cumbria, LA14 1HU • Tel: 01229 876555

Email: • Website:

Indoor and Outdoor Market

Indoor market starts at £42.77 per week + VAT. Outdoor market casuals from £11 per day. One day trader tables available indoor at £11 per day.

Various sizes of Stalls/ Units


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