Tag Archives: Open Market

Council officials back £61k loan to save Open Market

From Brighton & Hove News

Council officials are backing a request for a £61,000 loan to save the Open Market in Brighton.

The money has been requested by the Open Market Community Interest Company (CIC).

The Open Market CIC board includes traders and representatives of Brighton and Hove City Council, the Ethical Property Company (EPC) and Hyde Housing.

Hyde redeveloped the site and represents people living around the market. Ethical runs the market on a five-year contract.

open market

A report to the council’s Policy and Resources (P&R) Committee said that members could opt to do nothing but “this would result in the CIC becoming insolvent within the next two months”.

The market reopened in June last year but has had higher running costs than expected. These include a bigger bill for business rates which will be the subject of an appeal.

The report, by project manager Richard Davies, recommends that the council waives the Open Market’s business rates bill between now and March.

He said: “In certain limited situations, hardship relief can be granted to ratepayers.

“The council has agreed that exceptional circumstances apply in this case and that the conditions are met for some temporary help with hardship relief.

“The charge will be reduced to zero for the period October 2015 to March 2016.

“This is worth £15,530 (for the main liability of the temporary stalls), around half of which is funded by central government and the other half by the local authority.

Open-market-header-may

“The Business Rates Team has stressed that this is exceptional, based on the merits of the individual case.

“Further, they say that the award is conditional upon the (CIC’s) Recovery Plan resulting in an ability to pay the rates from April 2016.

“One of the requirements for hardship relief is that making an award is in the interests of local council tax payers.

“And it would not be in their interest if there is no likelihood of recovery, and therefore self-sufficiency, in the near future.”

At the CIC’s annual general meeting on Monday (26 October) the board refused to sign off the annual report and accounts.

Criticisms were made of the Ethical Property Company and what it was doing under its contract to manage the market.

Traders pay almost £16,500 a month in rent – or almost £200,000 a year – and more for services. They questioned whether they were getting good value from Ethical.

The Recovery Plan includes measures to ensure “greater efficiency” from Ethical.

The plan said: “EPC will continue to review management costs to ensure that these are minimised while delivering all of its responsibilities in managing the market.”

It also said: “The CIC board to review existing management contract with EPC as part of the Recovery Plan.”

Councillor-Kevin-Allen

Councillor Kevin Allen

Councillor Kevin Allen, who stepped in as interim chair of the CIC board, said that the AGM had been an opportunity to clear the air and added: “I feel confident that we’ve turned a corner.”

He said that he was determined to open up the CIC so that there was greater transparency.

And he added that the CIC needed new independent directors, preferably with expertise in accountancy or marketing.

Councillor Allen asked the council leader Warren Morgan to include the loan request on the agenda for the Special P&R Committee meeting which is taking place at Portslade Town Hall on Wednesday (4 November).

Mr Davies, in his report to the committee, concluded: “The CIC is in the early stages of its operation as a new business.

“If the immediate cash flow problems can be addressed by way of the requested loan there is the opportunity to implement the Recovery Plan and improve the financial position of the CIC and the long-term future of the market.”

He recommended that the committee approve the loan.

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.”

Open Market shortlisted for awards

From Brighton & Hove News

Brighton’s popular Open Market, has been shortlisted for a hat-trick of national awards.

The market has been nominated for the best regeneration, best community involvement and best tourism/leisure project in the upcoming Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors south east awards.

The new Open Market officially reopened for business on Saturday, 19 July 2014 after several years of development and as part of the regeneration of the London Road area.

Over 50 tenants now offer fresh, locally sourced food and goods, as well as a variety of arts, crafts, services and garden goods.

Green councillor Geoffrey Bowden, Brighton and Hove City Council’s tourism and culture spokesman, said: “The Open Market is an excellent example of regeneration and community involvement which has been many years in the making.

“I’m really pleased that it has now been shortlisted for this award, which further highlights the contribution it is making to the revival of the London Road area of our city.

“With its offerings of local produce, crafts and even entertainment, the Open Market is a great focal point for residents and is fast becoming a visitor attraction in its own right”

Managed by the Brighton Open Market Community Interest Company (CIC), as a social enterprise run for the benefit of the local community, its board has representatives from the market traders, the council, The Ethical Property Company and The Hyde Group, who developed the site and run 87 homes for rent and shared ownership adjacent to it.