Open Market traders critical of management.

From The Argus

Brighton Open Market traders say they should be free to run the flagship regeneration site themselves amid concerns raised about its current management.

Traders have lost confidence in managers Ethical Property and said the market would operate better without them.

The call comes after Ethical applied for a £61,000 loan from Brighton and Hove City Council without traders’ knowledge and the traders voiced their unrest at the meeting.

The site’s developers Hyde Martlet, who retain the freehold for the market and have a representative on the market’s community interest company board, have been criticised for their running of the site.

Stall holder Pat Mears, who first worked at the market in 1957, said traders were confused over why the enterprise was in financial trouble.

He said a business case for success had been based on 75 per cent occupancy, which had been exceeded, and had not accounted for traders hiring stalls in the centre of the market, which have also been popular.

He said that instructions from Hyde that the market could not receive deliveries before 9am on Saturdays had driven away customers who previously made early morning visits before parking charges started.

He said: “We have to get rid of Ethical, we have no confidence in how they are managing it.

“I can’t see the sense of giving them £61,000 to put it into a pot that has a hole in it.

“It should be the market traders who run it, we have people who have the experience and are good enough to run it.”

Fellow trader Mohammed Asaduzzaman said he was doubtful of the success of any recovery plan that came on condition of a council loan as it involved further expenditure rather than cost cutting or reduction in management fees.

He said: “We want to see changes to the CIC, it’s not run for the interests of the market traders, and we want it to be more transparent.

“We want to see where the money is being spent.”

Councillor Mary Mears, a former chairwoman of the Open Market Traders, said: “In the old market, it was the traders who made the decisions.

“They absolutely need to be at the forefront of making decisions, it’s their livelihoods.

“I don’t understand why Ethical need so many people to run the market, it’s just adding to the costs.”

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said: “The market traders vote for three of themselves to be representative members of the CIC and these three also sit as directors on the CIC board.

“They engage and oversee the managing agents and along with the other directors are responsible for the management and ownership of the market.”