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Romford Market plans 'a load of tripe' says former leader

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 December 2015

The sorry state of Romford Market at 11.30am on Saturday

The sorry state of Romford Market at 11.30am on Saturday

Archant

The £2.6million plans to transform Romford Market have been torn to pieces by opposition councillors.

20:20 vision – or a load of old tripe?

Consultant 20:20 Ltd has spent a year creating ideas for a new-look market.

The £2million “everyday adventure” re-brand will aim to bring in 50 new traders in the next four years and will include “moving and improving” stalls, holding seasonal and cultural events and creating new market days. Traders will need to sign a pledge agreeing to trade on all market days, adhere to presentation and customer service guidelines and respect all customers and co-workers.

Costs:

– £30,000 management hub

– £200,000 new stalls

– £1million covered area(s)

– £100,000 catering units

– £1.2million children’s play area/family-friendly space/ art

Proposed funding:

– £1million Greater London Authority Regeneration Fund

– £300,000 TfL LIP

– £300,000 Havering Economic Development Capital

– £1million Council capital

Residents’ Association (RA) leader Cllr Ray Morgon (Hacton) and Labour’s Cllr Keith Darvill (Heaton) called in the proposals last week saying there was no evidence they would be successful.

At a special overview and scrutiny meeting at Havering Town Hall on Wednesday, officers gave a detailed breakdown of the findings of consultants 20:20 Ltd, but were met with disdain from a hostile chamber.

Cllr Morgon called the report “one of the worst in a long time” and hit out at the survey conducted by 20:20 – who were hired for £60,000 despite never having worked on a market.

“There were 690 interviews,” he said. “We’re basing our decision on 690 people out of 234,000 in the borough?”

"It is an unpleasant environment full of unpleasant traders. And the merchandise is appalling – why buy it there when you can go to a pound shop or Primark?"

Cllr Steven Kelly

He later said nothing at the meeting had convinced him it was the right thing to do and urged councillors to send it back to cabinet before agreeing to spend £1million of taxpayers money and £1.6million of other people’s.

Former leader Cllr Steven Kelly (Conservative, Emerson Park) branded the report “a load of tripe” that had no substance and needed re-writing.

He asked why only £100,000 was set aside for new food stalls, which he called the basis of a successful market, while £1.2million would be spent on a family-friendly play area.

“I’m amazed we didn’t look at German Christmas markets and others whose sales are based on food,” he said. “Why should young professionals buy second-rate vegetables at Romford Market?”

He then said there was a long-standing bullying culture among traders.

He said: “Every market round here has a large percentage of ethnic traders, and we have two. We’ve been talking about bullying for 10 years. It is an unpleasant environment full of unpleasant traders. And the merchandise is appalling – why buy it there when you can go to a pound shop or Primark?”

Cllr Barbara Matthews (RA, Hacton) agreed a big obstacle in transforming the market would be the existing traders.

“I was involved in the 750th anniversary 18 years ago. They are appalling – they resist everything. They were rude, insulting – didn’t want it.”

Cllr Darvill said he was not as pessimistic as his fellow councillors but the report needed much greater detail.

He called on cabinet to start again and said the traders should have been included in the process.

“I may not agree with everything they say but I do like to listen and engage with them,” he said.

Ukip leader Cllr Lawrence Webb (Gooshays) agreed traders should have been consulted, and said offering new traders one month free rent was not long enough to determine if it would be worthwhile for them.

Members voted for cabinet to revisit the proposals eight votes to four.

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