Agenda and minutes

Dorchester Markets Informal Joint Panel - Wednesday, 23rd February, 2022 2.30 pm

Venue: The Town Hall, Corn Exchange, Dorchester

Contact: David Northover, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Dave Bolwell, Jean Dunseith and Jane Somper – all Dorset Council.


Appointment of Vice-Chairman

To appoint a Vice-Chairman to the Panel.



That Councillor Laura Miller – Dorset Council – be appointed Vice-Chairman for the meeting.


The Chairman took the opportunity to thank the previous Vice-Chairman  -Councillor Jill Haynes - for her contribution to the work of the Panel in the past.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 218 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 30 June 2021.


The minutes of the meeting held on 30 June 2021 were confirmed.


Declarations of Interest

To disclose any pecuniary, other registrable or personal interest as set out in the adopted Code of Conduct.  In making their decision councillors are asked to state the agenda item, the nature of the interest and any action they propose to take as part of their declaration.


If required, further advice should be sought from the Monitoring Officer in advance of the meeting.



There were no declarations of interest at the meeting.


Public Participation

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



There was no request for public participation at the meeting.


Financial Outturn Projection 2021/22 & Proposed Budget 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To consider a report by the Executive Director of Place.

Additional documents:


The Panel welcomed John George – of Ensors - to the meeting and were informed about their plans for the Fairfield market and how improvements might be made to how it was run and managed. He provided an insight into how both Dorchester and Wimborne markets were run - including their similarities and differences.


Ensors were willing to make further investments in the market so that it built on its success but to be able to do that required some commitment from the Panel that Ensors would still remain the operators going forward.


What Mr George envisaged for how the market could operate was drawn to the attention of the Panel, with the provision of local artisan craft and produce sellers being encouraged to set up within the market itself, and in the Linneys in particular. He could see these being self-contained units, secured and fit for purpose, with a Victorian feel and look.


He considered that the indoor aspect of the market was now dated and wanted to see this opened up more – still covered, but with the sides removed. He felt this would make it more accessible and attractive.


He considered the market still had a lot to offer and hoped his vision could be taken into serious consideration by the Panel. The Panel recognised that Mr George was providing his vision for the future arrangements for the market and thanked him for this insight.


The Panel were then provided with the Management Accounts from the Market Operator with the Projected Outturn for 2021/22 - the total projected expenditure is forecast to be marginally over budget with a potential cost of £44,218 against a budget of £43,968. There was projected to be a significant deficit on the gross income budget. Current projections indicate potential income of £124,655, against a budget of £165,165. However, the latest supplementary management accounts from Ensors cautiously indicated an improved position compared to the 2020/21 outturn, which saw income severely suppressed due to Covid-19 induced restrictions.


Overall, the sum available for distribution to the Panel was forecast to be £80,437, against a net budget of £121,197, the relevant shares being split as follows: Dorset Council - £45,388 (against a budget of £66,493), Dorchester Town Council - £24,440 (against a budget of £35,804) and transfer to the Car Boot Reserve of £10,609 (against a budget of £18,900).


The Budget 2022/23 comprised a proposed expenditure budget is £44,313 with the proposed income budget is £166,379. Accordingly, the budgeted surplus for distribution was £122,066 - with Dorset Council due £67,058 and Dorchester Town Council £36,108. The budgeted top up to the Car Boot reserve would be £18,900.


Members were aware that income was significantly suppressed during the 2020/21 Financial Year as a direct result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, including associated lockdowns and restrictions. There were early indications that income levels had improved for the 2021/22 outturn, and it is hoped trading activity may return to nearer normal levels during 2022/23.


Members acknowledged the circumstances under which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.


Fairfield Linneys pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To consider a report by the Market Panels’ s Officer Group.


It was explained that the Fairfield Linneys were two lengths of animal sheds, one backing onto properties in Great Western Road (North Linney), the other onto Fairfield Road (South Linney). Their appearance, dimensions and purpose were described, these having fallen into disrepair in recent years.


Members recognised that any neglect related to their condition, use and maintenance and, that given they had not been utilised to their full extent since being used to house fowls on market days some 40 to 50 years previously, this decline in their condition was understandable.


However, they had in recent years been blighted by vandalism and graffiti and as a means to deter this by improving their overall appearance and condition it was now being recommended to repaint the walls of both Linneys, at a cost of some £10,000 to make good and coat with anti-graffiti paint. Irrespective of the long-term future of the Linneys, the northern Linney walls were essential as a boundary with residential properties in Great Western Road, and it was also unlikely that the wall bounding Fairfield Road would be removed. These works had therefore been actioned to minimise the risk of a repeat damage. It was confirmed that the works could be accommodated within the Panel’s maintenance budget.


Officers would also implement other remedial works aimed at limiting future damage

• Litter would be removed from the caged area of the North Linney

• Guttering will be removed from the Linneys – it served no useful purpose and was an easy target for vandalism n

• Consideration was being given to extending the cage in the North Linneys to a natural break point where there was an existing breeze block wall.


When resources permitted, Officers would prepare a report for the Panel to give more detailed thought to the long-term future of the structures, which were looking increasingly worn and would inevitably continue to suffer periodic bouts of anti-social behaviour. The Chairman took the opportunity to thank officers for their quick response in dealing with the most gratuitous graffiti which had recently appeared.


The Panel considered what was being proposed to be a reasonable and practical remedy in improving the Linneys appearance and condition and hoped that they could still play some practical part in how the market was able to operate in the future - welcoming a report from officers on what options would be available in this regard.



That c. £10,000 from the maintenance budget be authorised to make good and coat the inner walls of the Linneys with anti-graffiti paint and that the other remedial works, aimed at limiting future damage, be approved too.


Market Strategy pdf icon PDF 212 KB

To consider a report by the Market Panels’ s Officer Group.




The Panel considered a report by the Town Clerk which set out a proposed strategy for the operation of markets in Dorchester, the history of the markets and how they had evolved over time, how they operated, what the practical issues were for running them and what they achieved.


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 together with how it had been managed, how it was being managed

and what visions there were for its future, were all considerations.


Options for how all Dorchester markets could remain vibrant and viable going forward were considered and were informed where any improvements and expansion might be able to be accommodated and how this might be done.


Given the limitations in being able to run the market as had been done prior to

the pandemic, trade - in terms of sales, browsing and passing trade – had all

been curtailed significantly over the recent months. Whilst this was generally

understandable, every effort had continued to be made to ensure what trade

possible was maintained, with social distancing rules being applied. Despite

the hardships experienced, there was still enthusiasm for pitches and being part of the set up by vendors.


The Panel saw this as welcomed news and, in recognising how popular the

markets all were, were pleased to see that there had been some resurgence in trade and interest now a degree of normality had returned. They acknowledged there was a loyal and dedicated patronage of the stalls and saw no reason why his shouldn’t continue to thrive into the future.


They were pleased to hear about what the planned strategy; how things were being done and what might be able to be done, and how this might be achieved.


The Panel considered what options there were for the future of Dorchester

markets - in terms of trading activities; locations; popularity and footfall;

access; legal and contractual commitments and obligations; and cultural and

social community considerations - with a presentation from the Town Clerk

facilitating this discussion and the panels understanding.


Accordingly they considered the options being recommended:-

• Explore grounds for an extension of the current lease beyond April 2026

• Prepare for a new procurement of the market operation from April 2026

• Bring management of the market in house from 2026 – note that neither Council currently has the skillset or resource to manage the Fairfield market


Irrespective of which long term solution was selected, it was important that in the short term, the Panel worked with Ensors to ensure that the market was well managed and well promoted.


Ensors had been offering to invest in the site in exchange for an extension to the lease for a number of years, and had also previously sought to acquire the site. Their view was that investment in buildings infrastructure was necessary to safeguard and rebuild the market.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.


Exempt Business

To move the exclusion of the press and the public for the following item in view of the likely disclosure of exempt information within the meaning of paragraph 3 of schedule 12 A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

The public and the press will be asked to leave the meeting whilst the item of business is considered.



That the following item be considered in closed session.


Cornhill Market

To consider a confidential report by the Market Panel’s Officer Group.



The Panel discussed the finances of the Cornhill market and the considerations around its operation.



That the Head of Community and Public Protection be authorised to enact the recommendation contained in the Town Clerk’s report.