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Shops call for council to get a grip on Brighton and Hove’s markets
Retailers and politicians have called for tighter management of street markets. Members of an influential council committee say that markets in Brighton and Hove should be devel oped only where they are supported by a majority of local retailers.
Brighton and Hove City’ Council’s overview and scrutiny committee has said that retailers need to be protected from stalls obstructing shop entrances.
It is calling for the council to lobby government for increased powers to regulate street markets.
The committee’s recommendations will be considered by the powerful policy and resources committee in October.
Malcolm Dockerill, manager at Dockerills ironmongery and hard- ware shop in Church Street, said that he was against street markets.
He said: “They do not have too much negative effect on Dockerills because of what we sell, but there are businesses in the North Laine whose trade is badly disrupted by these markets. Business owners pay rates 12 month a year yet these market people move in for one day, sell cheaper goods and affect trade. I suppose it creates an atmosphere but on the whole, I think we can do without them.” Gavin Stewart, manager of the Brighton Business Improvement Dis- trict (BID) said markets must be of a good quality and well-managed.
He said: “Some streets lend themselves more readily to mar- kets than others, and the wishes of the business community in those streets needs to be of paramount importance.
“Once an agreement is in place, the businesses already in a street need to work closely with the council and market management to not only agree suitable locations for stalls, but also to manage the product ranges on sale.
“Markets can add a real vibrancy to an area and be a real draw but there is a balancing act which needs to be navigated to make sure they are a success for everyone.”
Gill Mitchell, leader of the council’s labour group and chair of the committee’s retail panel, said: “The scrutiny panel identified a need for the council to be able to specify ‘themed’ street markets which seem to be the most popular with visitors and local traders.
“However, at the moment there is only a blanket street trading licence available so from a legal perspective this makes it more difficult for a ‘theme’ to be maintained.”
But Nick Mosley, organiser of the Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival, said that business in the city does not need more legislation.
He said: “We already require all traders to have their own public liability insurance and hygiene certification, and environmental health officers are always welcome at our events.
“The council needs to look to engage with organisations, such as the food festival, that have demonstrated year-on- year that they act responsibly for the benefit of local communities and the food economy.
“The festival team are all well-respected Brightonians and the last thing we’d want to see at any of our events is inferior product or service, or traders.”