You have a duty of care in relation to waste under the Environmental Protection act 1990 and regulations which require business waste producers to ensure that their waste is disposed of in an appropriate and legal manner and that any organisation that they pass waste to is authorised to accept, transport, recycle or dispose of it safely. Failure to comply can result in an unlimited fine. So you need to take expert advice from a specialist/professional. Much will depend on the type of waste and the size of the market operation. A market with butchers and fish stalls will need to deal differently with waste than a small outdoor market made up of general commodities.
On an outdoor market there will be a number of options ranging from powered compactors to Euro-bins or even simply providing each trader with a refuse bag each market day. Recycling is a key issue and you will have to comply with your Council’s policy.
You can of course ask that each trader removes their own waste – placing the onus of correct disposal upon them. It will be more of an imposition on stalls selling commodities such as fruit/vegetables/offal or anything with a high turnover of packaging materials. Putting the onus onto the traders could lead to incorrect disposal in public bins or dumping, so a well thought out plan and consultation with traders and waste specialists is a must. (CN)
Q2. Should all market traders be provided with a full copy of the markets regulations? At the moment we provide guidance verbally to casual traders start/finish times, waste arrangements etc and only issue our regular traders with our full regulations.
All Market traders need to have access to your regulations. The approach at Tameside is that all traders are issued with trading guidance at registration, the guidance being a brief version of our complete regulations. Within the guidance it informs traders to either go to our website or request a full copy from the market office if needed. (SH)
Q3. Comments have recently been made that our large open market is looking “shabby”. We are concerned because we have only been in operation for around 20 months. Upon inspection we have identified that the fixed kiosks, stalls, and the market areas surface, are indeed looking slightly worse for wear. What approach is best adopted to help ensure that we bring the market back up to standard, and then to subsequently maintain that standard?
As with all facilities it is essential that adequate systems are in place for any maintenance, servicing, and reactive repairs. Without fully understanding the extent of what your market compromises it is difficult to provide a detailed response. However, your issues can be split into two groups. Firstly, you as the market operator have full responsibility to maintain in good order the surface and any structures. An adequate cleansing programme should be in place. We would suggest designating a time for both the inspection and subsequent works, with the introduction of periodic surface cleaning (jet washing, chewing gum removal), and structural deep cleaning. With regard to your fixed kiosks, you will need to look any statuary obligations and then an agreement should be drawn up (if not already in place) laying out your and the tenants’ responsibilities. A copy of the Tameside handbook is available from Tameside markets management.
Q4. We have a large events space incorporated within our markets area. The space has become very popular with various organisations utilising the space to run small events such as egg and spoon races, talent shows etc. The events are great and add valuable appeal to the town centre. However, concerns have been raised with regard to H&S. As the events are being organised by others we haven’t felt it necessary to collate any information other than the lead contacts details. Is this the correct approach?
An event space is a great facility and as you have said, the space will add vibrancy and appeal to the markets area. If it has been established that the events space is within your area then you will need to make sure that those that utilise it are prioritising public safety, and have the correct documentation in place to indemnify you as the operator against liability. At Tameside no matter how significant the events are, management ask all organisers to go through the Council’s approved licensing process here: http://www.tameside.gov.uk/events/organisevent.pdf (SH)
Q5. What are the best ways to communicate with market traders? Each time they trade they see an officer at letting/collecting and have open access to the market office throughout the trading day. However, we are still criticised for not keeping our traders “in the loop”.
Some traders will attempt to place blame for any breakdown in communication with the markets operator, when in truth they are themselves very selective in the information they take in. Newsletters are a traditional route, but take resources. Tameside has the following avenues in place to help tackle the issue.
- Upon registration an up to date email address is required. If the trader states they don’t have one we create one for them.
- We also contact traders via text messages.
- If the trader has the use of a social media account we inbox as necessary.
- We have a physical trader’s notice board at the markets office. This is replicated online at our webpage.
- In line with our efforts to reduce the amount of paper we use we rarely write out to traders. However, if we do it’s normally to an individual trader and we have any correspondence signed received.
In addition to these methods, we would strongly recommend that you organise to meet with a representative group of traders on a regular basis, as many traders will be more inclined to discuss issues in the presence of fellow traders. The best way to do this is to encourage the formation of a local NMTF “group” – more info here: nmtf.co.uk (SH)
Q6. We are currently seeing a number of inconsistences in the way our open market is being operated. Our market officers have a different approach to letting, collecting, and managing issues such as encroachment and the enforcement of our waste policy etc. We make sure that all of our staff read through our market regulations and agree to the Council’s code of practice, however we still have issues. What approach is taken by other operators when trying to encourage consistency?
Operators of smaller markets where one or two members of staff are overseeing the day to day operation will be less aware of issues arising from inconsistences. Other market operations where we have a larger amount of staff are likely to be more aware of such issues. Your aim should be to remove the need for self-interpretation. To do this a robust procedural guidance document should be produced detailing how each element of your service should be delivered. Training staff in the use of the guidance will ensure that each member of staff has a clear understanding of what is expected of them. (SH)
Q7. We have been approached by a neighbouring shopping precinct and asked to stop placing certain traders on the stalls which face the precinct’s entrance. Their argument is that some of our traders offer the same commodities as their tenants. Is it considered good practice to consider the high street or shopping centres/precinct when formulating a Balance of Trade?
When formulating a Balance of Trade policy it is advisable to factor in only the areas for which you are responsible. I suggest you make it clear to the precinct’s operator the nature of a market in that the offer will constantly evolve, and that whist you appreciate that the operator may receive pressure from tenants to resolve such issues, the market is a separate entity and will be balanced only in line with your policy. (SH)
Q8. What approach should be taken when dealing with trader sickness on open markets? We currently waiver up to four occasions a year per regular trader, however no formal documentation is required and it seems that traders are looking at the waivers as an extension of their trader holiday allowances.
Approaches to how sickness is dealt with will vary but it is key that only genuine cases of sickness are considered. Talk to other market managers and checkout their systems to get an overview as to what works. As an example, Tameside markets operate with the following guidance –
Sickness and Bereavement
- Where a Regular Trader is absent through illness and a bona fide medical certificate is provided, the Council will grant a maximum of 2 weeks free of Daily Charges in any 12 month period. The first week of illness will be charged at the full cost of the Stall, with the waiver of Daily Charges being introduced from the second week onwards.
- In situations where long term trader absence of more than 4 weeks is necessitated through illness and where appropriate certification is provided, the Council will consider each case in the light of individual circumstances. (SH)
Q9. We are currently seeing a number of vacancies on our large open market but we are finding ourselves restricted in what commodities we can allow for sale due to an historic balance of trade agreement. At what stage is it acceptable to bypass such agreements to fill the market?
A written balance of trade policy should be in place and periodically reviewed and adapted to suit the current state of the market. The policy is in place to determine an adequate number of products to be sold which sustain fair and reasonable retail business opportunities for the local community, whilst recognising the potential detriment that vacant non-trading stalls may have to the overall impact of the delivery of the market. Historically some market operators preferred to set a maximum number of each commodity, but demand for products is flexible and ever-changing. A more suitable approach can be to set a minimum distance between those selling the same items. This still keeps the retail area varied but does not restrict those traders from meeting demand.
There is a detailed Nabma paper on Balance of Trades on the Nabma website – go to Publications. (SH)
Q10. A very irate customer has contacted the market service and demanded that we get his money back for an item he purchased on the market, which he states has now ceased to work. What part should we play when dealing with such issues?
Having robust guidance in place for both staff and members of the public is essential when dealing with any consumer related enquiry. A Market Shoppers Charter should be put in place , example here http://www.tameside.gov.uk/markets/shopperscharter.pdf.
Whilst you cannot be expected to interpret and decide on detailed factors (that is the role of Trading Standards) it is advisable that market officers keep themselves familiar with general consumer rights so that you can be helpful to customers and traders. Current legislation can be found here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/15/contents/enacted. (SH)
Q11. I have recently taken over operational control of a small outdoor market and it has come to light that none of our traders hold an up to date third-party public liability insurance (PLI) policy. How do other operators keep on top of the problem and is there an option to provide the insurance ourselves?
For info – Tameside operates with the following guidance.
“To indemnify those responsible for the operation of the market against any issues arising from the trader’s occupation and use of the Market, registered stallholders shall maintain a policy of Third Party Public Liability Insurance to a minimum of five million pounds, and produce such certificates of insurance on demand. “
At registration adequate proof of PLI should be provided and recorded. It is then essential that the information is maintained, and renewals enforced.
In addition, Tameside currently operate with a block policy which can be offered out to new traders as a start-up incentive. Such policies may be available via the Council’s insurers or commercial insurers (see trade publications).
Q12. Trader-generated waste has become a concern on our second-hand/flea market. Traders have got into the habit of leaving unwanted stock and excessive packaging on neighbouring/unoccupied stalls, leaving it difficult to identify who is causing the problem. Could you advise on the best way to deal with this issue?
How you expect waste to be dealt with – including the separation of recyclable materials – should be clearly laid out within your markets regulations, with the enforcement of these regulations being adopted by those who day-to-day operate the market. You need adequate staff to monitor the problem and take appropriate compliance action. It is also essential that you make sure you have the adequate facility to house the waste, as on busier days overspill can breed non-compliance. (SH)
Q13. We have recently been inundated by requests from charities and community groups to use stalls on both our regular retail markets and temporary events. What approach should be used with regard to charging?
Markets are so much more than just a retail outlet, they should be the centre point of a diverse community. As market operators we should encourage such groups as they add value to the overall offer. This being said, a clear local policy should be in place as to how often individual charities/community groups can attend, what facilities they can use, whether they should pay the standard market charges and what stance is to be taken when dealing with political and religious groups. (SH)
Q14. We have been asked by market traders if we can introduce a permit scheme for the town centre car parks, as they feel this would help entice others to trade. Do any other operators run such car parking incentives?
Any incentive you can offer to traders is always going to be a positive, but the cost of such a scheme will have to be taken into account. For info: Tameside has such a system – see http://www.tameside.gov.uk/carparks If such a facility is not currently available speak to your local car park operator to see if they would be willing to offer out a subsidised rate for traders at a car park that is not too far away but that doesn’t take away spaces for market customers. (SH)
Q15. A number of our market traders are taking it upon themselves to “carry goods off” the market ground when they decide they no longer wish to trade. We currently have bollards in place restricting vehicle access but have nothing in place within our current regulations to stop traders leaving early.
As an operator you have to decide if this practice is having a negative effect on the market “offer” and overall customer perception. Consistency of traders’ opening/display times should be enforced as traders who want to continue trading are affected by those who selfishly want to “pull down” early. We would advise that (after consulting with trader representatives) you include an appropriate condition in your regulations/licence – and then take appropriate compliance action where necessary.
Local weather conditions tend to dictate what should be done. For instance, it can be dangerously windy in one part of the country meaning that stalls can be blown over and goods scattered, yet other parts of the country can have ideal trading conditions.
Market management has to consider the safety of the public, traders and their own staff as a priority. Ultimately the responsibility lies with the markets operator to deem the area safe for trading. Consideration should be given to wind speeds, impending weather conditions, surface conditions (eg frost, snow, ice) and types of stall/equipment being used as part of your risk assessments.
Market operators also need to have an operational policy in place to deal with the question of “Should traders be charged when a market is closed for safety reasons due to bad weather? (SH)
Q17. To minimise or remove the need to handle cash, we have been asked to consider alternative payment options. Are alternative payment methods to cash now accepted as the “norm” within the industry?
More operators are looking into cashless payment options for safety and security purposes. These include chip and pin terminals, direct invoicing and web based payment systems. You may find details of commercial systems in trade publications. Talk to other market operators who currently operate using alternative systems – one of which is Daniel Ritchie, Cambridge Markets Manager, who champions good practise and is currently operating a cashless system. (SH)
Q18. We are a local authority looking to review our open market fees & charges. What approach should be taken to ensure the most effective results?
You’ll need to comply with your financial regulations and consider whether your valuer should be involved or whether it is appropriate for you as markets management to conduct the review. Assessing and comparing the “markets competition” would give you a general idea of what traders are paying within your region – on a square foot/metre, lineage or other basis. A successful market with plenty of customers and successful traders will normally achieve higher rentals than a quiet market with poor economic performance. The level of trader demand, a transparent base rate and an easily collectable amount are also points to consider – and consulting on the pros and cons with trader representatives will provide useful information. (SH)
Q19. We are looking to introduce a Markets cash collection/accounting system. What systems are available to the industry?
Q20. We have been asked to consider the use of pop up (gazebo-type) as opposed to fixed stalls. What are the positives and negatives of introducing pop ups?
An obvious advantage of using pop ups is that the market infrastructure can shrink and grow on demand. This gives the beneficial perception to the shopper that the market is full – because empty stalls are definitely a “put-off” for customers. The flexibility of pop-ups also means that they can be relocated to more advantageous pedestrianised areas to capture footfall.
The other key benefit is that they can create a qualitative market scene as they are an attractive backdrop for traders’ goods. Marketing and presentation are major factors in today’s retail scene – and some markets that have traditional stalls look scruffy due to dirty or worn (or absent) tilts, side sheets and table skirts.
However, there are a number of financial and operational issues to consider including:
- the cost of the pop ups
- the resources needed to erect (early start for staff!) and dismantle the temporary stalls – and the need for transport and storage
- the need for holding-down devices (aka ground anchors) due to wind conditions
- the cost of repairs and maintenance
- their vulnerability when operating in adverse weather conditions.
- And – not least – whether your traders will see them as a benefit to their presentation and sales, or as an operational problem in their everyday use.
You are advised to closely research the pros and cons by talking to stall suppliers, to other managers and to your and other traders where they are in use – eg. Rotherham uses them very successfully whereas Newark is replacing them with standard stalls. (SH)