This month’s Bristol City Council entry for ‘BRITAIN’S WORST LOCAL AUTHORITY CONSULTANTS’ REPORT’ comes courtesy of Nabma Market Place’s (NMP) report into St Nicholas Market. Accuracy, it seems, is not NMP’s strong point while making proposals that could WRECK LIVELIHOODS. “Within St. Nicholas market,” we’re told authoritatively, “there are three individual segments. Each area has 50 trading units.”
Er, except, later in the report, every stall in every segment is identified “in chronological [sic] order”, with each business and its rental charge identified with NO REGARD FOR PRIVACY, and the total is 49 stalls. Is the market two-thirds unoccupied? No – “STALL OCCUPANCY RATES ARE NEAR 100%” – we’re told. This is an error of some magnitude then. An error that gets repeated. “The Glass Arcade offers 50 UNITS principally for the sale of fast food,” we’re unreliably informed, making any attempt to excuse the inability of these consultants to count as a typo or a transcription error tricky.
NMP are similarly CONFUSED ABOUT FINANCES. “Annual income generated from the markets and docks estate services through market and concession licence fees, event, promotional and filming site fees is £750,000,” we’re told. Then we’re assured, “the Council currently generates a surplus of approximately £315,000 pa.”
However, finance information in the report suggests that this claim is BOLLOCKS. Gross yearly rent recorded for St Nicks is £115k. While, even, if we accept that every street market stall on Corn Street is occupied on every market day for the maximum charge of £37 then that would earn around £200k. Making turnover about £325K A YEAR. A figure suspiciously close to £315k. Do the council and their consultants know the difference between TURNOVER and SURPLUS? And where did they find their £750k turnover figure?
The problem here is that this flawed report proposes MAJOR CHANGES. One proposal is to RAISE RENTS. We’re told, “there are many inconsistencies in the rental structure. Such anomalies are historic and are a result of several years rent negotiations with individual traders.”
Swiftly glossing over these odd “negotiations” between council bosses and individuals over lawful charges, NMP propose to “resolve inconsistencies in the rental structure” with, er, an INCONSISTENT RENTAL STRUCTURE! They propose: Exchange and Covered market rents remain UNCHANGED; café rents remain UNCHANGED; Glass Arcade rents increase to “A REALISTIC COMMERCIAL VALUE“; a SEPARATE RATE is introduced for fast food traders; rents at Market Gate remain UNCHANGED; trader Spice Up Your Life’s rent is INCREASED.
What’s consistent about this? Especially when the report says, “in reviewing the Exchange and Covered market rents there is no consistency in the fees and charges”. An INCONSISTENCY that, apparently, can remain.
NMP’s second proposal is the real BOMBSHELL for traders, however: “Without doubt the popularity of food and Bristol City would greatly benefit from having a really high quality food hall. Such a facility, located in the Exchange, would provide a unique facility to the City, enhance the market area and complement market activity in St. Nicholas Market. A food hall … would be a fabulous asset to the City. The market would become the central hub for high end food.”
Look out! They’re gonna gentrify our market using a hookie report.
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