Plan to be made for future of Charter Market

St Albans Charter Market.

How St Albans Charter Market looked before the pandemic. - Credit: SADC

A business plan outlining the future of St Albans Charter Market is due to be analysed at a meeting next month.

The historic market was granted its Royal Charter in 1553, and is now run by St Albans district council.

To allow the market to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, traders brought their own gazebos, which they put up and dismantled themselves to reduce the risk of contamination. Now the council will discuss whether this should continue.

Members of the council's audit committee, which monitors financial procedures and risks, have asked the head of community services to provide a business plan for the market's future development - which will be presented at a meeting on Wednesday, September 1.

If the plan is not available in time, a special meeting of the committee may be called to discuss the plan later that month.

Cllr Roger Butterworth, the audit committee’s chair, said: “We are very keen to review a business plan, even if it is just in draft or interim form. It will set out historical financial information for the past six years and cover options for use of either gazebos, as used during the pandemic, or stalls for the future. 

“This is intended to fill the gap identified by the council’s internal audit team that there is to date no overarching strategy or policy regarding the Charter Market.

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“As a committee, we have been asking for this for some considerable time and we are concerned at how the market could operate in the future without one.

“We will be looking for one to be produced for our next meeting or for another meeting later in the month as this is an urgent issue with Covid restrictions now being lifted.

“It is within the remit of the audit committee to ensure proper planning, resource provision and financial monitoring that are needed for such an esteemed local asset for the benefit of residents and traders, and of good governance, alike.

“We’ll also be examining the business plan against internal audit reports for the market from previous years although we recognise that it is a service to the community and may not necessarily make a profit.”