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Councillor Lewis Anwers Our Questions: 10

February 15, 2014

Finally, Councillor Lewis has responded to all the points we made in New Market management proposals: a culture change or more of the same?

  • The traders themselves have not been involved in the drafting of this paper and have only been marginally involved in the discussions around new management proposals.

The Council had many discussions with NMTF trader representatives on the potential management arrangements during the feasibility stage in which we explored in full with the traders, at their request, the potential for a social enterprise as a management option, but ultimately traders did not elect to progress this.  Officers set up trader consultation sessions, which unfortunately were not well attended, and engaged extensively with traders through newsletters and avenues available to the wider public throughout the feasibility stage prior to making a recommendation to Executive Board in March 2013.  The range of consultation undertaken during that phase of the project is set out in the report which is in your possession.  In the case of the management options report, Executive Board in March 2013 approved in principle the format which had been arrived at by extensive consultation with third parties, and requested officers to work up the required detail, which was the subject of the report to the Council’s Executive Board in December 2013.

  • The proposed new structure will be “informal” will not actually have decision making powers but “advisory”. How will this be different to the Market Forum which did not work?

In terms of its structure it does have some similarities with the Market Forum in that there will be cross-party political representation and representation by elected trader representatives.  It is, however, important to note that whilst for the constitutional reasons set out in the report, the new Advisory Board will not be able to take decisions on behalf of the Council, it will be officially recognised as an Advisory Board and the Council will have regard to its advice in its decision making process. The inclusion of up to 3 independent advisers should bring a different, external perspective to the new structure allowing for more informed debate and decision making.

  • Traders will be outnumbered by politicians who have none or little expertise in running a Market.

The Council must have a majority control of the Advisory Board and, I am sure that all political parties will be keen to nominate members to the Board who have a genuine interest in the Markets. It is important that all members of the new Board join with a commitment to work together with each other and with officers to get the best outcome for Kirkgate Market.

  • The new management structure will come in too late to have a significant impact on the redevelopment proposal and new lease arrangements and instead relegated to advise during the commencement of the actual works.

It is intended that the Advisory Board will be set up by June 2014.  The Council is unlikely to secure planning consent until November 2014.  Whilst the Council has already approved new lease arrangements and the format of the new management arrangements, the Advisory Board could have a very significant role working with the Council on the phasing of the works and relocation of tenants, and particularly, how the Market can continue to run effectively, attract customers and promote itself during the redevelopment works.

  • The proposed independent advisers all seem to be from a commercial/marketing background with no consideration given to experts on social inclusion, social services, vulnerable groups.

The range of skills presented in the report are indicative only and reflect what a major shopping destination in a major city may wish to focus on.  However, the report also recommended that the traders and Elected Members could be appointed first and then take part in the recruitment of independent advisers, to ensure they get the most appropriate ‘fit’ with agreed and identified gaps in skills provision.

  • There is a lost opportunity to understand the Market as a Public Service which is essential to those more vulnerable.

By deciding to keep the management arrangements as ‘wholly owned’ by the City Council, the Council is underlining its commitment to ensuring that these values are never lost.

Nice quotation marks around “wholly owned” and interesting that it only applies to “management arrangements”. Comments, anyone?

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