Westminster City Council has today invited residents, community groups and independent traders to contribute ideas and expertise to help the borough’s six street markets thrive at the heart of local communities. It aims to help the markets, become more environmentally and financially sustainable, offer a more diverse mix of products and invest in new IT infrastructure such as WiFi, outdoor furniture and public realm improvements, so each market is a great place to work and shop.
Subject to member approval, a formal consultation document will be launched in August, but Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet member for Economic Development, Education and Community, has outlined the plans in advance to ensure that everyone in the community is fully engaged in shaping the council’s strategy for each of its markets.
Cllr Harvey has written to registered market traders, local residents and community groups today and will be meeting representatives from each neighbourhood alongside market traders over the weeks ahead. Cllr Harvey said:
“Our markets are at the heart of our communities and I want them to remain there. In a rapidly-evolving business environment, it is vital that the markets in Westminster continue to hold their own with other markets, on-line retailers and other attractions and provide what local residents want. I want to discuss with local residents and traders on each market how we can work together to make sure they continue to thrive and serve their neighbourhoods.”
The proposed consultation would be open to residents, shoppers, visitors and businesses as well as traders, and seek views on how to:
In parallel, there will also be a consultation on some changes to the daily street trading licence fees – currently £10.61 Monday to Thursday, £18.16 Friday and £24.40 Saturday. These would be the first changes since 2006 and will make sure the running cost of our markets are fully funded by local traders. Under the proposed new system start-up stalls and those managed by Westminster residents would pay the lowest application fees. Westminster City Council can only recover the costs of cleansing, waste collection and administration fees through its street market licensing regime, which currently runs at a loss – with the council effectively subsidising Westminster’s markets by around £300,000 a year. Investment in services such as new infrastructure or promotional activity must be raised through other mechanisms.
Cllr Harvey said:
“I want to ensure a sustainable future for our markets, so I am starting a conversation to assess how a new charging system can work. I recognise the diversity of circumstances faced by traders across the borough, ranging from highly profitable businesses to smaller enterprises and start-ups. I am very much in listening mode, but the aim will be to keep charges as low as possible while covering the council’s costs, and to ensure that Westminster remains a great place run a small business.”
The new strategy for Westminster’s markets will be implemented from April 2019.
Notes for editors:
Within Westminster there are six daily street markets. They are: Berwick Street, Church Street, Maida Hill Place, Rupert Street, Strutton Ground and Tachbrook Street. There are also two weekly farmers markets, Marylebone Farmer’s Market and Pimlico Road Farmer’s Market.
On 4 July the Westminster City Council Licensing Committee will meet to approve a statutory consultation on fees and charges. This consultation, also incorporating the broader vision for the future of markets will start on 6 August and run until 28 October. Papers for the 4 July meeting will be published on 26 June at http://committees.westminster.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CommitteeId=129
The full consultation documents will be available from 6 August at https://openforum.westminster.gov.uk/street-markets