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Decision details

General and Sunday Market Trader Covid Impact Business Support Offer

Decision Maker: Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

In recognition of the difficult trading conditions and to help sustain General and Sunday market occupancy figures and a viable city centre market, the Executive Councillor is recommended:

-  To apply a 25% discount to all General and Sunday Market traders for each of the deferred monthly rental invoices (June/ July/ August and September 2020) and issue a combined invoice for this four month deferred period in October, 2020. 

-  To continue with the discounted standard pitch rate of £10/ day, Monday-Friday (as per 11th June urgent decision); and introduce an additional discounted standard pitch rate of £25/ day, Saturday and Sunday; and premium pitch rate of £15/ day, Monday-Friday; and £30/ day, Saturday and Sunday, with effect from 1st October to 31st December, 2020; and any further extension subject to review.

-  To waiver the ‘casual’ trader premium charge of £5/ day until the end of the financial year (31st March, 2021) with the aim of encouraging ‘casual’ traders to take on daily available vacant pitches to maximise market occupancy rates.  The corresponding recommended standard or premium pitch fee rates, as detailed in 2.2 above, will continue to be applied to ‘casual’ traders.

-  To extend the ‘relinquishing of license’ measure (ie. removal of the four week notice period condition to relinquish licence, introduced on 23rd March, 2020), until the 30th November, 2020.

Decision:

The Secretary of the Cambridge Market Traders Association addressed the committee as set out below.

  i.  Market traders were happy that the council was looking into ways to reduce the financial burden during the current situation. Reports in the press and their experience showed that interventions from both the government and the council could sometimes be very uneven in their effects. The Cambridge Market Traders Association hoped councillors were aware that COVID has affected some market sectors more than others.

  ii.  People whose trade focusses on tourists have seen trade fall by up to 90%. Therefore, any use of deferments and pay-back processes over longer periods would extend financial pain for many months and possibly years. It is hard to save, when you have fixed costs and limited income. In principle, would the scrutiny committee be amenable to schemes where rent/debt is written off, the precise details of which can be worked out later, for cases where market traders can demonstrate reduced financial circumstances through presenting accounts or other evidence.

  iii.  Many of the assistance schemes brought forward both by the council and the government have a qualification that if you have accepted help from elsewhere, you would not get any help under a new scheme.  So if a trader receives a modest amount of support from one scheme, it then prevents them from accessing support from many of the other schemes, and this has blighted the effect of many of the Government and Council introduced schemes, and made them effectively a form of empty gesturing. The Council say they are supporting people but the number that can access it is limited. Can Market Traders be assured that such a qualification would not be included in the current scheme and under any packages that you vote to bring forward in the future?

  iv.  Queried if a rebate could be factored into costs to help reduce them.

 

The Head of Environmental Services responded:

  i.  The City Council had a repayment plan available for traders to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

  ii.  The City Council wanted the market to be viable and to support traders.

  iii.  Undertook to take the queries away and liaise with colleagues, plus the Executive Councillor, so a response could be given after this meeting.

  iv.  Noted that the City Council’s finances were under pressure, but there were no qualifications on support offered to traders. Was unable to comment on Central Government schemes.

 

The Secretary of the Cambridge Market Traders Association said he would forward copies of correspondence to date to the Head of Environmental Services for information.

 

Matter for Decision

On 11 June 2020 the Council recorded an urgent decision to introduce market trader Covid-19 impact business support measures, under paragraph 2 of section 9, Council Procedure Rules. 

 

In recognition of the continuing impact of Covid-19 on the trading conditions being faced by the Council’s General and Sunday Market traders and the need to sustain a viable city centre market, as a key factor to the city centre ‘high streets’ economic recovery, the Council is proposing extending the programme of support measures from 1 October to 31 December, 2020.

 

Decision of Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre

In recognition of the difficult trading conditions and to help sustain General and Sunday market occupancy figures and a viable city centre market, the Executive Councillor agreed to:

  i.  Apply a 25% discount to all General and Sunday Market traders for each of the deferred monthly rental invoices (June/July/August and September 2020) and issue a combined invoice for this four-month deferred period in October 2020. 

  ii.  Continue with the discounted standard pitch rate of £10/ day, Monday-Friday (as per 11 June urgent decision); and introduce an additional discounted standard pitch rate of £25/ day, Saturday and Sunday; and premium pitch rate of £15/ day, Monday-Friday; and £30/ day, Saturday and Sunday, with effect from 1 October to 31 December, 2020; and any further extension subject to review.

  iii.  Waive the ‘casual’ trader premium charge of £5/ day until the end of the financial year (31 March 2021) with the aim of encouraging ‘casual’ traders to take on daily available vacant pitches to maximise market occupancy rates.  The corresponding recommended standard or premium pitch fee rates, as detailed in 2.2 above, would continue to be applied to ‘casual’ traders.

  iv.  Extend the ‘relinquishing of license’ measure (ie. removal of the four-week notice period condition to relinquish licence, introduced on 23 March 2020), until the 30 November 2020.

 

Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.

 

Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.

 

Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Head of Environmental Services.

 

The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

  i.  Queried if communication channels were working effectively between the council and market traders given feedback from the Secretary of the Cambridge Market Traders Association.

  ii.  Asked the Head of Environmental Services for his view of the mood on the ground regarding the report recommendations.

 

The Head of Environmental Services said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  Would communicate the market pitch payment plan with traders.

  ii.  There appeared to be communication issues between the council and market traders. Channels that were used to date:

a.  A weekly bulletin to all traders.

b.  Traders were offered a surgery with officers.

c.  Officers were visible on the market.

d.  Officers had an engagement plan with traders regarding the market square development to shape the design concept.

e.  Officers liaised with the trade body representatives.

  iii.  Undertook to liaise with the Market Team to improve communication channels with traders.

  iv.  Market stall occupancy was 68% now. It was 90% pre-covid. Figures could be provided to Councillors after the meeting.

  v.  Officers had held discussions with Cambridge Market Traders Association. They had some insights into traders’ financial losses and which products were particularly affected eg food.

  vi.  Casual trade pitches were promoted through the weekly bulletin to traders and advertised through social and news media channels.

 

The Executive Councillor said:

  i.  The Market Team had sent a number of surveys to market traders and followed these up with phone calls to test the:

a.  Impact of COVID-19.

b.  Position now.

  ii.  The market square redesign project hoped to generate a diverse market open seven days a week in future.

  iii.  The Head of Environmental Services and his Market Team were doing what they could to support traders.

 

The Committee unanimously resolved to endorse the recommendations.

 

The Executive Councillor approved the recommendations.

 

Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.

Publication date: 12/11/2020

Date of decision: 01/10/2020