At its meeting on 26 October 2021, the Cabinet made a decision relating to Market Consultation Outcome. The decision was called-in and a special meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel was held on 7 December 2021 to consider the call-in.
Market Consultation Outcome
Consideration was given to the report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Corporate Development) and S151, which requested that, in accordance with the decision of the Performance Monitoring Panel, the issues around Market Consultation Outcome be referred back to the Cabinet for further consideration.
The decision of the Cabinet, made on 26 October 2021, had been called in and the Performance Monitoring Panel had discussed a number of issues – the following alternative proposals were submitted to the Cabinet for consideration:
· That a parity of charges apply across all markets in the district; and
· That additional costs for the road closure in Long Sutton be met by the Council’s general expenditure.
Members debated the issues that had been raised, and the main points arising were:
The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services made the following points:
· He felt that the reasons for call-in were very narrow – with regard to parity, Spalding market had been the biggest beneficiary of the changes, getting a significant reduction in charges whilst Long Sutton and other markets had increased charges;
· The percentage increase figure stated within the call-in amounted to only £1.50 per trader – this did not even equate to the full £1.50 charge for a road closure;
· An explanation was provided of the process for the original review of market charges, and it was stated that the opposition group had been successful in campaigning for parity of charges at the time. However, there had been a resultant requirement that the road closure was part of the charge made in Long Sutton (but not a full charge, which resulted in the contribution of £1.50). The £7 charge for all market stalls, in addition to the £1.50 partial cost for the road closure in Long Sutton had therefore been proposed and accepted by the Cabinet;
· The Portfolio Holder did not feel that the charges to market stall holders were unreasonable;
· It was important to encourage and promote markets, and a source of revenue was required to achieve this. The amount of £7 was not sustainable in the long term. SHDC had been generous during the Covid period by not charging stall holders (not all authorities had done this), but it was now important to consider future investment in the markets, and the costs of running them.
Councillor Brewis (who had called the decision in, along with Councillor Tyrrell) responded:
· He did not believe that the reasons for the call in were narrow, and that it had been done this way for a reason. Residents and stall holders were critical of the extra charge for Long Sutton market, and he felt that the decision was damaging to the Authority. The closing off of the road had been at the instigation of the Council;
· Any decision that discouraged opportunity to have extra stalls should be resisted;
· The vote at Performance Monitoring Panel had been unanimous in favour of encouraging the Cabinet to be fair and charge the same across the district;
· He felt that the charge of £7 was fair, however the issue was parity.
The following additional points were raised by Cabinet members:
Members questioned whether a more cost-effective traffic management company was available, and how long the current contract lasted.
Concern was raised with regard to the on-line payment system and it was questioned why a trader would wish to book so long in advance when attendance was often weather-dependent. It was also important that any IT based system worked well. The Portfolio Holder advised that the Book and Pay system was well understood and used across many councils. He accepted that there had been some teething problems but stated that it was a process accepted by most market traders. The purpose of booking ahead was to benefit the customer by giving some certainty, and also to ensure that the market was run effectively – it provided information on who would be turning up, and by not allowing traders to pay on the day, would avoid markets being empty.
Cabinet considered all of the issues and concerns raised as part of the call-in process, together with the views presented to it by members attending the Cabinet meeting. However, the Cabinet considered that its original decision had been based on proper analysis and therefore remained appropriate.
That, following reconsideration of its decision on 26 October 2021 in respect of the Market Consultation Outcome, and having regards to the concerns of the Performance Monitoring Panel, as detailed in the report:
1) The decision of the Cabinet, made on 26 October 2021 be affirmed – the Cabinet considered that its original decision had been based on proper analysis and therefore remained appropriate; and
2) That these decisions became implemental with immediate effect.
(Other options considered:
· The Cabinet must reconsider the matter and must take into account the concerns of the Panel before adopting a final decision, which may or may not amend the original decision. The final decision shall not be subject to call-in and may be implemented immediately, but in making the final decision the Cabinet must explain the decision in relation to the concerns raised by the Panel and such explanation must be included on the notice of the decision.
Reasons for decision:
(Councillor Brewis left the meeting following consideration of the above item).