Market gazebo trial delayed as council admits it cannot fund scheme
- Credit: Matt Adams
There is no money for buying or erecting gazebos to replace stalls at St Albans Charter Market, councillors have been told.
The revelation came at a meeting of the district's scrutiny committee, when Cllr Karen Young, vice-chair of the policy committee, was quizzed over the proposed gazebos pilot scheme.
Earlier this year, market traders were told a trial of the proposed uniformed gazebos would be taking place in June, involving around 20 stall-holders at a cost of approximately £20,000.
Cllr Mandy McNeil, at the time portfolio holder for business, tourism and culture, said then that SADC would be paying for the purchase and erection of the gazebos.
But asked about the pilot scheme by Cllr Frances Leonard at last Thursday's meeting, Cllr Young told councillors: "One of the primary drivers of the market reorganisation was the dire financial situation. Any option that requires us to have a large team of erectors or spend a large amount of money on gazebos is not a viable option right now."
Following the meeting, a decision has now been taken to delay the pilot until the autumn.
The pilot scheme gazebos will be put up by a contractor, who will also dismantle and store the gazebos at the end of the working day.
- 1 Meet the artist behind The Queen's Platinum Jubilee mural in St Albans
- 2 Suspected loan sharks arrested in Hemel Hempstead
- 3 Building company resurfaces bridleway to provide safe route for riders and walkers
- 4 From Levi's to Leyton Road: Superstar fashionista for over 50s back on shop floor
- 5 St Albans shop showcasing small independents by renting out shelves
- 6 Foodies queue to try street food sourced, cooked and served in Herts
- 7 Stalking Protection Order issued to Herts man after obsessive behaviour towards ex
- 8 Fire breaks out at flats above row of shops in How Wood
- 9 MoonWalk success for the St Albans cancer survivor and her Belgian Buns
- 10 Tough mother Jenny giving back to Bone Cancer Research
Feedback will be obtained from traders, shoppers and local businesses, and officers will be monitoring performance of the gazebos in different weather conditions before a final report and recommendation is made to the council’s regulatory and business committee later this year.
Cllr McNeil, now lead councillor for various business activities including markets, said: “We targeted late June for the pilot scheme as we had to have a COVID lay out until the Government removed the social distancing measures.
“These plans have now had to be put back following the government decision to continue with COVID restrictions for the time being.
“COVID continues to put pressure on council finances and we are exploring how best to fund the purchase of gazebos as part of the business plan process. The financial position of the market has improved, and we are seeking further cost reductions including reviewing our very high business rates and whether those are justified.
“When it gets underway, the pilot scheme will be a good way of testing layouts and gauging the opinions of traders, businesses and residents on the best way forward.”