Tuesday, December 15, 2015

News: Rotherham market fees frozen

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The rent freeze at Rotherham Centenary Market is set to continue but certain charges are set to be increased.

General fees and charges have not increased since 2013 as many traders stated that they are suffering hardship in the current economic climate. Fees and charges were frozen again from March 1 2015 but with the condition that a mid-year review be undertaken.

With an estimated £41m savings to be made across the Council over the next three years there is a need to closely evaluate the contribution of Council assets to the budget.

In a report recently received by Commissioner Kenny, Dean Thurlow, markets manager at Rotherham Council, said: "The markets continue to welcome over four million customers per year. The occupancy rate is currently 87% which is comparable to average occupancy rates in 2012 of 96% and 2015 of 83%. Three new businesses have opened in 2015 and two businesses have been taken over by new owners in addition to the five new businesses that have joined the Tuesday Street market, demonstrating that there is still interest in the markets from new businesses.

"An independent study produced for the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) by Manchester Metropolitan University entitled Markets Matter reviewed footfall over 2014/2015 at eighty four markets within the UK. Rotherham's Tuesday Street Market was identified as the fourth highest customer footfall location of those surveyed demonstrating that the market continues to perform well in attracting shoppers."

£48,000 investment was made this year in new outdoor market stalls and increased quantity to allow the Tuesday Street Market to expand from 62 to 95 stalls.

However, the report adds that trade has been affected by a number of marches and demonstrations over a concentrated period. Total footfall for the year to date in the markets complex has decreased by 6.5% compared to the same period in 2014. A letter received and signed by 34 market traders highlighted the impact of the demonstrations as they asked for a 20% reduction in rent for a period of six months.

Commissioner Kenny has now made the "minded to" decision that rents are frozen for the remainder of 2015/16 and until September 2016 when another review will be undertaken. Investments and higher running costs mean that charges for car parking, storerooms, lighting and CCTV will increase. Rival markets in the area and concessions such as media companies will have to pay higher fees.

The call for a 20% reduction in fees was rejected but five perimeter stalls are set to see there rents reduced in line to other stalls as the opening of Tesco has changed shopping habits and footfall patterns.

The Council commissioned The Retail Group at a cost of £19,000 last year to identify the future strategy and growth plan for the town centre markets, and the right offer for the town and its customers. A redeveloped markets complex was identified in the borough's growth plan. It said: "Work is currently underway to identify options for the (re)development of the complex, which will seek to provide a new and vibrant facility while retaining the historic impact of the market on the town centre."

Five council-owned properties around the market at Eastwood Lane, Howard Street and Market Square are set to be made available soon.

Rotherham town centre website

Images: RMBC / Facebook

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