Stroud District Council: serving or dictating?

Gerb Gerbrands, founded a flourishing farmers’ market with Clare Honeyfield (Made In Stroud shop) in 1999 (more here).

In 2010 it was selected as the Best Food Market in the BBC Food and Farming Awards. Earlier this year it won the Farm And Retail Markets Association’s Farmers’ Market of the Year award jointly with Surbiton market in London.

Stroud District Council has shocked and angered stallholders, shopkeepers and the market’s customers by announcing that it was putting the contract to run the award-winning market out to tender after 14 successful years.

stroud petitionThe Stroud News and Journal reports that around 2,000 shoppers signed petition calling on Stroud District Council to reconsider its decision. Visitors to the market queued on Saturday to sign the petition.

The farmers’ market is widely viewed as essential to the town centre’s economic wellbeing. A bookstore owner warned of a ‘devastating effect’ on the town centre if the farmers’ market falls into the wrong hands, while another trader believes the tender process could spell the death of the High Street.

Vice-chairman of Stroud Chamber of Commerce Ron Cree, who owns R&R Books in Nelson Street, said: ““We already know that Gerb is up to it and it would be hard to envisage anyone else running it. It won farmers market of the year last year so what could possibly be done to make it any better.

We know best

A spokesman for SDC: “Councils are under increasing financial pressure to get the best value for money for our tax payers and the tender process will ensure that the market continues to be of a high quality and delivers good value for the public as we recognise its importance to local people and the local economy”.

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Posted on December 14, 2013, in Democracy undermined, Local government, Planning and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. By email from Stroud resident:

    A small correction. The machinations are not municipal. The lease is running out in 2014 and quite correctly it has to be put out to tender. It has been calculated that the leaseholder makes £120,000 from it so, of course, they feel threatened but the democratic process is important. T

    The Council is a coalition led by the Labour Party and their only wish is to see the market continue to grow and be successful. They would certainly not give it to some outsider with different values. Fear not.

  2. Stroud resident: note the SNJ sentence: it was the authority’s decision to put the contract out to tender.

  3. stroud farmers market stallholder

    very misleading phrase “makes £120,000”. My calculation from number of stalls times stall fees is less for receipts before any deduction for wages (significant amount of local people employed to put up the market), insurance, transport, office and other costs before you’d arrive at a figure for what the operator makes.
    The figure £100,000 revenues for the operator has been put out by the district council as publicity for their decision, deliberately not saying what the operator actually makes as a profit; also deliberately not mentioning that the Invitation to Bid (ITT) specifically allows a licensee to raise costs as they choose, which would allow whoever wins the licence to raise their profits towards a six figure number, while funding their bid by loading the costs onto stallholders.
    This comment also ignores the fact that the provisions of the ITT make absolutely no mention of restricting bids to exclude outsiders with different values. In fact “outsiders with different values” are already being attracted like flies to honey by the ITT.

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