Concerns raised about street markets

One business owner was reportedly left in tears as they wait for a decision on plans for a new market in their seaside resort.

Joanne Evans on behalf of market events company RREvent Solutions had applied for short-term licences from Wirral Council to operate two markets in the borough, one on Liscard Way in Liscard and the other on Ian Fraser Walk near Marine Point in New Brighton.

The Liscard market has now been pulled due to timing issues but the New Brighton market on the waterfront would have a maximum of 25 stalls and will operate from 3 May to 6 May and from 8 August to 11 August.

The proposals were up for a licensing panel decision on 5 April. Concerns have been raised by a community group in New Brighton about the markets there fearing it will cause some independent businesses to close down, claiming similar past events in the summer season had led to a drop in business.

Cathy Roberts from the New Brighton Coastal Community told the LDRS she was representing the views of 25 businesses from Atherton Street to Victoria Parade including some who have been there for decades, adding, “I have received their concerns from rage to frustration to one person breaking down in tears.”

She said, “This isn’t an increase in the offer, this is a duplication. All those food outlets, there are two or three cafés on Victoria Road and all of them are impacted. I’m not talking about slightly impacted. It’s between 35 and 50%.

“Last year every single bank holiday had a visiting event. We had three visiting fairgrounds for the King’s Coronation and one of the businesses lost 50% of their trade that day. When you are at a seaside resort, you rely on your bank holiday trade. You rely primarily on the seaside season.”

When considering the application, the council’s market policy said consideration will have to be made about whether local businesses can take part in the market, how it would impact high street footfall, how it would add to the offer of local businesses, and any feedback from the local community.

At the licensing panel meeting, Joanne Evans from RREvents said they had been holding markets on the town’s Dips but this hadn’t worked out for the company due to the size of the area as well as a lack of accessibility for the elderly and disabled. She said the company was now looking to re-establish itself on the promenade having held events there in the past.

She said, “We just enjoy going to New Brighton and I think it’s a good event. Every time we go, we get good feedback and we get some negative feedback but we deal with it,” adding, “We do bring a lot of footfall and a lot of footfall into the community and that is what we would like you [councillors] to consider.”

The markets will come with a variety of different stalls from the company’s core traders offering Greek, Thai, South American, and Mexican food as well as things like wooden trinkets, garden furniture, lamps, rugs, and dreamcatchers. She said the company was open to working with local traders offering up to five stalls for free which was promoted on their social media and tried not to duplicate what’s on offer.

However, councillor Graham Davies said, “How do the existing businesses know that the social media is there? How do they know to look for it? I know it’s on social media but how do they know?”

Ms Evans said she had spoken to a number of businesses in the immediate area including Morrisons, Home and Bargains, and Iceland who she said were very supportive as well as the local RNLI. However, after being questioned by councillors, she acknowledged she hadn’t spoken to businesses on Marine Promenade or Victoria Road.

Following complaints in the past, Ms Evans said they would take all possible steps to address issues raised, pointing out that stalls would no longer be tied to memorial benches and music would be staggered throughout the day following past complaints.

Ms Roberts said the first event held by RREvents in New Brighton was “a disaster from the point of litter around the memorial benches, stalls being tied to the memorial benches and alcohol uncontrolled in the area.”

She said, “The problem is in a seaside town like New Brighton, you rely on the bank holidays to sustain your payroll for the rest of the year,” adding she no longer opens her bookshop on bank holidays when there is an event in town.

Pointing to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and recent issues around vans parked on the promenade, she said, “It feels like we are suffering an onslaught,” adding that one trader asked her “does the council want us to fail?”

Ms Roberts has now invited Ms Evans to meet with the coastal community about potentially working with them going forward, adding, “We are trying to extend the season at the moment. We would like them to come then when they are not in direct competition with trade.”

Councillors will issue their decision on whether to grant market licences for two events in New Brighton in writing following the panel meeting. Ms Roberts said if the market days in New Brighton are allowed to go ahead, she may look to take legal action on the matter due to the impact this would have on trade.

Image: GOOGLE

Why not follow birkenhead.news on Facebook, Twitter, and Threads? You can also send story ideas or letters to the editor to news@birkenhead.news