‘Inevitable’ charges are set to be reintroduced for Kettering market traders to help a council bridge an £18,000 budget gap.
Markets are currently held on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and traders have not been charged for pitches since fees were suspended at the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020.
But charges are set to be reintroduced in three weeks because the costs of putting markets on outweighs the council’s budget allocation.
A report set to be discussed at a meeting at Kettering’s council chambers tonight (Wednesday) said: “The market will cost in a full year about £28,000 to provide. Most of this cost is the labour involved in putting stalls up and taking them down but there is a rates liability of £4,000 and other minor costs involved in the service.
"The council’s net budget allocation for the market is £10,000. To bridge the gap, it is necessary to reintroduce charges to traders, which were suspended at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.”
It’s been proposed that charges are introduced again from June 8. The suggested rates are £12 plus VAT for a 3m x 3m pitch where the council provides the stall and tables and £8 plus VAT for a pitch where trader provides their own rig or vehicle. All new traders get a two-week introductory free period (a maximum of two days trading) and casual traders get up to two free days each financial year.
But the charges will not be enough to completely close the gap between the budget and market management costs unless more traders come forward.
At the current rate of occupancy pitch fees will generate about £9,000 in a full year, leaving another £9,000 still to be found.
The council report said: “Growing the market beyond its current occupancy rate is therefore critical to ensuring that the net costs can be kept to the £10,000 deficit allowed for in the budget.”
The council is also proposing to remove the distinction between the Wednesday collectors market and the Friday and Saturday markets. They say there is some evidence that some traders would increase the number of pitches taken up. It would allow any trader to trade on any of the three market days.
The council report added: “Members of the markets sub committee held a consultation event with traders and other interested stakeholders in March and a consultation questionnaire was shared with market traders in April...although the volume of responses to the consultation was low, there was a positive response to the proposal to remove the distinction between the Wednesday and general markets, and a recognition that some form of pitch fee was inevitable.”
What suggestions do you have to help Kettering’s market flourish again? Email your thoughts to [email protected]