Council puts itself in the market

PUBLISHED: 12:41 19 April 2007 | UPDATED: 15:05 12 May 2010

Town manager Geraint Burnell: A bid between the town council and the town centre forum would be “the right approach”.

Town manager Geraint Burnell: A bid between the town council and the town centre forum would be "the right approach".

A JOINT bid to run the twice-a-week Royston market is to be considered by Royston Town Council and the Royston Town Centre Forum. They are set to take part in the opening stage of the tendering process in the hope of taking over the running of the market

A JOINT bid to run the twice-a-week Royston market is to be considered by Royston Town Council and the Royston Town Centre Forum.

They are set to take part in the opening stage of the tendering process in the hope of taking over the running of the market from North Herts District Council.

The district council intends to "privatise" the market operation and has already received almost a dozen inquiries about the process and it is expected to invite six applicants to make a tender application.

Councillors decided on Monday evening to prepare paperwork which will spell out its intent to run the market.

The paperwork - a preliminary qualification questionnaire - had to be submitted tomorrow (Friday) to meet the district council's deadline.

The move came after members had been told by town centre manager Geraint Burnell that the town centre forum did not have the resources to bid on its own.

"Forum members have discussed the situation and believe that a bid with the town council will be the right approach," said Mr Burnell.

He said he envisaged that the town council and the forum could run the market "to the benefit of the town" and undertaking such an operation would be on a non-profit basis.

"If we were to make a profit from running the market then any money could be ploughed back into the market," he said. "We wouldn't expect to compete on commercial terms. We are not a professional market company."

He said that should the joint approach be accepted then a detailed business plan would have to be drawn up when it came to the tendering issue.

It is believed, too, that the district council is currently renegotiating the lease on the site which includes car parking.

Because it needs the income from car parking charges the district council is unlikely to contemplate giving up the lease or handing it over to the town council.

It is understood, too, that the current lease includes a clause that says a market has to provide on Wednesdays and Saturdays on the site.

Cllr Rod Kennedy told the meeting: "The market is fundamental to the town and it is hoped we could run it on a break-even basis."

He continued: "It is important to Royston that the market continues as the future without the market would look bleak."

Cllr Philip Mayne described the process being undertaken by the town council and the town centre forum as one in which it is "putting a toe in the water".

"It is worth thinking about seriously," he said.

And Cllr Bill Prime said he had been "gob smacked" at the district council's decision to hand over the running of the market to a private company. "There is tremendous potential in developing the market," he said.

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