The Corporate Director – Communities submitted a report, so as to recommend to Cabinet the approval and implementation of a Management Improvement Plan for Bridgend Market.
He confirmed that many traders had cited the high relative rents (as compared to both retail units in Bridgend town centre and those at other similar markets in Wales) and the resultant current high vacancy as their main reasons for leaving the market.
The report also advised that Watts and Morgan had advised that vacant plots in the market were available and not being filled, as the rents for these were being set too high. This factor was also having an effect on the amount of rent that BCBC were recouping, which was not as good as it could be, if rental levels for spaces there were reduced to a more reasonable level that would increase the interest of traders to take up these spaces. This would also then assist in increasing footfall in Bridgend town centre he added.
The next section of the report, then referred to marketing proposals for the Indoor Market together with some proposals regarding future terms of leasing.
With regard to the report’s financial implications, the Corporate Director – Communities advised that a permanent reduction in existing traders rents of 25% frozen until April 2020, will increase the rental shortfall at the market by £43,500 per annum. A rental reduction for new traders was proposed to attract them to the market. This reduction will result in less income on an individual stall basis, from current rates, but collectively this may not result in a dramatic overall fall in income if the number of stalls occupied and hence paying rent increases.
The Officer concluded by stating that the proposed changes will result in a budget shortfall that will be addressed corporately through earmarked reserves in 2018/19. However, a longer term solution will need to be developed once the earmarked reserve had been exhausted.
The Leader advised that the Rhiw Shopping Centre, Bridgend Town Council and Bridgend Improvement District had been working with Cabinet and local Members to support the reports proposals, as well as traders also having a major input, with a view to improving the current position. He further added that it was important for the public to be aware that BCBC actually leased rather than owned the Indoor market at a cost of £120k per annum.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet agreed to:
(1) Introduce a permanent reduction in the Bridgend Market rent for current traders of 25%, effective as at 1st July 2018, with rents to be frozen until April 2020.
(2) Reduce asking rents quoted by Watts & Morgan. The new proposed rents would be dependent on the size of the individual stall and would reflect Watts & Morgan’s advice.
(3) Allow new traders tenancies which offer more flexible terms of occupation. It is anticipated that these specific changes will increase the number of lettings and in turn, improve the vibrancy and occupancy of Bridgend market.
(4) Embark on a programme of marketing and capital investment initiatives, within existing budgets and in partnership with the Rhiw Shopping Centre owners to improve the signage, displays, environment and utility of the Market, including a new open ‘Central Market Square’
(5) Authorised the Corporate Director - Communities, in consultation with the Head of Finance to action these changes.
(6) Noted the actions of the Bridgend Market Partnership in collaboration with interested parties in seeking to bring about long term the effective change in Bridgend Market.