Let debate on our market begin

More discussions over the future of Todmorden indoor and Outdoor Market are beginning
More discussions over the future of Todmorden indoor and Outdoor Market are beginning

The next steps exploring a new dawn for Todmorden Market were set to be taken this week as councillors sat down last Wednesday night to consider a new report into its future.

Todmorden Town Council’s amenities committee was set to consider the report, compiled by the Todmorden Market Futures Steering Group.

The report has been given to traders and was the subject of a public meeting open to all at the end of January.

The steering group hopes the report will be the springboard for a “robust debate on what the art of the possible might be in terms of the market’s future.”

It hopes the findings and recommendations in the report will be adopted by Todmorden and Calderdale Councils.

“If the Todmorden Town Council were to lead on discussions with Calderdale Council, market traders and other interested parties, a sustainable proposal for the future could be developed which should prompt the preparation of a full business case and strategic plan for the markets,” it says, having concluded “there is little doubt that maintaining the staus quo without more investment is not sustainable and places the markets at risk - should this be the case, the impact on the general well-being of the town and local community would be considerable.”

A more comprehensive and detailed study of market traders’ views, indoor and outdoor, should form an integral part of any future business plan for the markets, the report says.

Although reasons for the survey had been articulated to traders from the outset conversations with them had raised concern and confusion among some who thought the exercise implied their livelihoods were at risk, says the report.

Some trader representatives on the steering group had written to Calderdale Council with a petition articulating a lack of confidence in the group, but as the group had not seen this correspondence was unable to respond formally to concerns raised, says the report. At the request of traders a meeting between themselves and Calderdale Council representatives had taken place.

The report examined alternative government and management models including continued ownership and managership by Calderdale Council, a traders’ buy-out, sale to a private company, an asset transfer to a community trust and a partnership arrangement.

Two options which received the most support were an asset transfer to a community trust or a partnership arrangement.

The former would see all investment remain within the local community and providing the trust could attract the right skills set, local governance and ownership could emnable more efficient and effective management by establishing a more local feedback loop for decisions made. In the case of the partnership arrangement option, numerous models exist. This would leave the asset wholly in council ownership with the management of the service by others and opportunities for external funding might be limited.

The report is available electronically on the Todmorden Pride, Todmorden Civic Society, Incredible Edible and Todmorden Information Centre websites. Requests for a copy of the report in a different format should be made to Todmorden information Centre before March 31, from where the request will be forwarded to the steering group.