To receive a report from Mr John Trusler, Principal Engineer on the performance of the Town Centre Markets and Car Boot Sales.
The Committee welcomed Mr. John Trusler, Principal Engineer, who was in attendance to provide a report on the town centre markets and car boot sales.
Mr. Trusler gave an overview of the background to the current position regarding markets and car boots. In 2013/14, the market in Farnborough had operated out of the Princesmead car park and at that time there had been some uncertainty around continuing to trade in that location. As a result, a decision had been taken to look at a different approach in both towns. In 2015, the Council had decided to take the day to day operation of the markets and car boots back in house and relocate the Farnborough market in the pedestrianised Queensmead area. An independent market assessor had been asked to carry out a review and it had been estimated that the Council could be earning in the region of £214,000 per year from its market and car boot offer. Unfortunately, this amount had never been realised and the most the Council had earned had been around £128,000 in 2015/16, with a steady decrease year on year since, resulting in earnings of less than £20,000 in 2019/20.
Planning conditions restricting calling out, music etc. in Queensmead had contributed to the decline in Farnborough and the Aldershot market had seen a decline following the closure of Marks and Spencer and other High Street stores. The Farnborough car boot, however, had continued to perform well making an average of £1-1.5k per day, with the Aldershot car boot operating at a loss.
A number of actions had been taken during this period to improve the offer, these included:
· A cut in running costs
· A health check by the National Market Trader Association on the Farnborough market
· Recruitment of a Market Operative to encourage new traders, build relations etc.
· Market testing to find a provider to run the offer – one operator showed an interest but wanted the Council to run it on their behalf with no income
The Coronavirus Pandemic had also had an impact on the markets and car boots. The street markets were operating again with certain restrictions in place although the restrictions and the reduction in space meant that some traders had been turned away. Consideration was currently being given to the re-opening of the car boots sales, but it was difficult to see how this could happen in the current situation. There were a number of options to consider moving forward with the opening of the car boot sales, these included an amalgamation of the two sites and the provision of an open air offer during the summer months and a covered site in the winter.
The current situation with COVID-19 offered an opportunity to review the operating arrangements for the markets and car boots and give consideration of how the delivery could be taken forward.
Following a discussion, it was AGREED that a workshop would be arranged to consider this item in more detail. A date would be found and circulated to all Members of the Committee.