Question reveals another 54 years on market lease
BRIDGEND council is locked into a lease on the town’s market hall lasting another 54 years with no break clauses.
This information was obtained by Welsh Conservative Regional AM Suzy Davies from a Freedom of Information request, which also revealed that the council pays annual rent, services charges and insurance of £226,000 for the market, which is owned by a private property company.
It received rent of £246,000 from stallholders in the last financial year.
Mrs Davies asked these questions after meeting market traders anxious about the future of the market where 11 of the 29 stalls are now empty.
She asked the council what action was being taken to let these stalls and was told they are all on the council’s website and some have marketing boards on them although others do not. A statement said the council intends to instruct a local letting agent “in due course”.
Mrs Davies said: “The council needs to pull its finger out and start actively promoting Bridgend market to get more tenants in. An exciting market is a draw. Town traders as a whole are explicit in their discontent with the council’s approach to developing town centre retail, as we saw in the recent elections.
“I recently visited the market with Coun Kay Rowlands, who is regeneration spokesman for the Conservative group on the council. We were shocked at the number of empty stalls we saw. There are whole aisles where there are no let stalls.
“It’s very disheartening for the other stallholders who are fighting hard to make a living.
“I have also asked how much subsidy the market receives from council taxpayers as the cost of its own employees like the market manager is not included in the expenditure listed.”
A Bridgend council spokesman said: “A Market Partnership Strategy Group has been established, and the traders and council are working together to develop new and innovative ways of attracting new stalls and supporting fresh business.
“As regards some of the suggestions that have been made, many of these have already been set up, including the offering of trial tenancies with reduced rates, staging events within the market and using stalls to promote things like free storytelling sessions, the summer reading challenge or Halloween and Easter festivities.”