Agenda and draft minutes

Virtual / MS Teams + OB, Dorchester Markets Informal Joint Panel
Wednesday, 16th December, 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Virtual / MS Teams + OB

Contact: David Northover, Democratic Services Officer 01305 224175  Email: david.northover@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman

To elect a Chairman of the Panel for the remainder of the year 2020/21.

 

An opportunity to welcome new appointees to the Panel.

Minutes:

Resolved

That Councillor Mollie Rennie – Dorchester Town Council – be elected Chairman for the remainder of the year 2020/21.

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman

To appoint a Vice-Chairman of the Panel for the remainder of the year 2020/21.

Minutes:

Resolved

That Councillor Jill Haynes – Dorset Council – be appointed Vice-Chairman for the remainder of the year 2020/21.

3.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor Simon Gibson – Dorset Council.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 133 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 29 January 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 29 January 2020 were confirmed.

5.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of pecuniary interests.

6.

Public Participation pdf icon PDF 48 KB

To receive any public questions or statements on the business of the Dorchester Market Joint Informal Panel.

Minutes:

There was no public participation at the meeting.

7.

Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 12 KB

To note the Panel’s Terms of Reference.

Minutes:

The Panel’s Terms of Reference was noted. Whilst understanding the need for and importance of political proportionality on both Coucnil’s Committees and Panles The panel recognised – if at all practicable - the need for it to be representative of  those with a affiliation forDorchester  and the wards served by it Whilst this was provided for in the TOR , currently this was unable to be put into practice. This was acknowledged with the means for this being achieved in the future being actively pursued so as to ensure the Panel was as representative of the town as it could be.

8.

Presentation of an overview of Dorchester Markets

To receive and consider a presentation of an overview on Dorchester markets.

Minutes:

The Panel received a presentation updating on the fundamentals of the

market – its purpose its heritage and its legacy – and what it had to offer to

the town in terms of economic, social and civic benefits. How it had been

managed, how it was being managed and what visions there were for its

future were all detailed.

 

As a market town, of the County Town, it was something of which to be rightly proud and was considered an asset, on Council owned land, in supporting other Council activities. It provided an opportunity for traders, a boost for the local economy and was a business seedbed. It attracted footfall locally and from visitors afar and acted as a social service - providing value for money goods that were not necessarily able to be sourced by other means. It was community focused, vibrant and stimulated local contact, being adaptable in reflecting changing needs and trends.

 

In terms of finances, the net surplus distributed was allocated 65% to Dorset Council, 35% to the Town Council, this being some £123k in 2018/19, with the net surplus from the Car Boot being distributed as community grants – some £19k in 2018/19.

 

However, there were issues which needed to be addressed these being falling footfall and income; Ensors’ contract ending in 2026 and the management arrangements at Fairfield, with limited offer and loss of retail offer being of concern at the Cornhill site.

 

To address these issues, engagement in partnership with Dorset Council was needed on an asset review so as to:-

        develop a strategy for the markets

        improvements to the communication with the Fairfield operator

        planning for the end of the current Fairfield operator contract

        a review of markets management arrangements

        engagement with stakeholders about Cornhill/South Street offer and how to improve this.

 

The Panel appreciated this review of issues considering that, as well as the economic benefits to be gained, the social and welfare benefits of the market were of considerable value too.

 

It was accepted that the Fairfield market should be invigorated so as to provide something unique and relevant to the customer of today, to meet their expectations - were that be more street food outlets, demonstrations or heritage exhibitions.

 

This would go a long way to ensuring the market’s viability was maintained and gave a valid reason for people to continue to visit it in the numbers previously seen. It was accepted that the pandemic had seriously affected what could be done in the recent past, but they saw no reason why this trend couldn’t be reversed going forward.

 

Given that during that period the market still operated as best it could and attracted custom, there was an obligation to ensure this loyalty was recognised in the coming months and years so that it remained a place attractive to go and spend time.

 

The Panel noted the differing scenarios with regard to trade and performance

of the different market entities. It was disappointing to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Financial Outturn 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To consider the financial outturn 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel considered the Financial Outturn 2019/20 and were asked to approve the income and expenditure statement for 2019/20.

 

What the operational issues had been, the reasons for this and how these had been managed were described, together with what influences there had been on the accounts being presented - with the total income for the year being £160,546 compared to the budget of £182,374.The main variance was a reduction in the fee paid by the market operator, with the decrease from the Cornhill Traders related to a credit note of £4,329, relating to 2018/19. How these issues were being managed and addressed were noted.

 

 What was happing with town centre retail and custom and significant changes to retail habits accounted for much that was being seen, as well as the part the pandemic was to play in the ability to operate the markets as before and the consequent reduction in footfall.

 

Whilst disappointing, the Panel recognised, and accepted, the reasons for this and the bearing this had on the budget.

 

Resolved

That the income and expenditure statement for 2019/20 be approved.

 

Reason for decision

To enable the Panel to consider and approve the Accounts for the

year ending 31st March 2020 and ensure the budget was being managed as well it might.

 

10.

Market Management Report pdf icon PDF 62 KB

To consider an oral report on Market Management – complemented by the latest Ensors’ report.

Minutes:

 

The Panel received the Dorchester Market Operator’s Report from Ensors’

for the period 1st April to 30th November 2020, with the:-

·       Income and Expenditure – Wednesday Market  - the gross income totalling £44,167, compared with a figure of £ 91,367 for the same period in 2019.

·       Income and Expenditure – Sunday Car Boot Sale - the gross income totalling £12,883, compared with a figure of £32,267 for the same period in 2019.

 

Understandably this had been an exceptionally difficult year for trading due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which had necessitated the closure of the market for short periods during lockdown followed by lengthy periods of restrictions on selling “essential items” only, resulting in a substantial drop in income.

 

Given this and in view of the substantial reduction in income of the market this year, and the fact that restrictions were to be in place until at least Spring 2021, the operators considered that their monthly payments on account should be agreed at £3000.00 per month.

 

That being said, they hoped that normality would resume during the latter half of 2021 and were committed to discussing the future of the market and

making any necessary improvements.

 

Ensors’ report confirmed that they were wholly committed to the market and were avidly trying to encourage new traders to attend to support the market.

 

The Panel were pleased to see this commitment and noted the benefits this would bring. It was recognised that trading in open air markets during the pandemic was seen to be safer than shopping in-store and that the operators had rigorously ensured compliance with the Covid-19 regulations in the working practices of its traders.

 

The Panel noted that with the hiatus in trading of the Farmers Market and Cornhill operating when it was able, the Fairfield site provided a regular weekly commitment in ensuring locally sourced produce, goods and services could still be obtained during the pandemic and what benefits were gained from this. Whilst this was a long established location, it was recognised that a high street setting might lend itself more readily to attracting more modern retail practices in meeting the needs of passing trade.

 

Officers confirmed that they would assess the request for a monthly payment reduction and report to the January Panel meeting on this.

 

The Panel considered this to be a practical and reasonable way forward in managing the situation.

 

11.

Car Boot Fund

To consider an oral report on the Car Boot Fund.

Minutes:

Distribution of Grants from the Dorchester Market Car Boot Fund for

the Financial Year 2019/20

The Panel received an update on the distribution of grants awarded from the

Dorchester Car Boot Fund during 2020, together with an illustration of the

type of organisations; local projects; initiatives and activities which benefited

from the fund, as a result of the income generated by the weekly Sunday Car

Boot Sale held at Dorchester Market. The Dorchester Market Car Boot Fund was financed entirely by the income from the car boot sales.

 

The Grant Awarding Panel had met during the summer to consider the applications, and assessed them against the necessary criteria and on the merit of each, being allocated on their relevant necessity and benefit. How initiatives were being delivered and the benefits they brought were critical considerations in the way in which the fund was allocated. In total, 11 community and voluntary organisations had been successful, and the total amount awarded was c. £13k.

 

The Panel were pleased to see how the fund was being used and how

beneficial this would be to the viability and success of projects and initiatives

in them being able to contribute towards what Dorchester had to offer.

 

Resolved

That the distribution of the Dorchester Market Car Boot Fund for the financial

year 2019/20 be endorsed.

 

Reason for Decision

So as to ensure the available funding was allocated so as to be as beneficial

as it could be to Dorchester.

12.

Market matters

To provide the opportunity for consideration to be given to any outstanding matters relating to the management or operation of Dorchester markets.

Minutes:

The opportunity to raise other market matters was not needed as all had been covered previously in the meeting.

13.

Date of next meeting

To confirm the date of the next meeting of the Panel – Wednesday 27 January 2021 at 2.00 pm, via MS Teams.

Minutes:

The date of the next meeting was confirmed as Wednesday 27 January 2021.

14.

Urgent Items

To consider any items of business which the Chairman has had prior notification and considers to be urgent pursuant to section 100B (4) b) of the Local Government Act 1972. The reason for the urgency shall be recorded in the minutes.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items for consideration at the meeting.