- Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services to report.
Councillor Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development Services, introduced a report by the Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services which referred to the review of Rotherham Borough Council’s Market Franchise Rights Policy in respect of market type events operated by defined organisations for sporting, social, charitable and political fund raising purposes and for those that were privately operated for commercial gain. The changes in policy outlined in this report would align the Council’s policy with European Anti-Competition legislation and allow for the establishment of commercial market operations subject to eligibility criteria being met.
Rotherham Council, as a Markets Authority held the powers in the form of Market Franchise Rights to operate markets within the Borough free from disturbance from rival markets. These rights allow the Council to create and operate its own markets, license or if necessary prevent through injunctive relief all rival markets within a 6 and 2/3 mile radius of any market it currently operates or licences.
By virtue of its statutory powers the Council enjoyed market rights throughout Rotherham. All markets held in Rotherham were licenced and operated in accordance with the provisions of Part III of the Food Act 1984. The statutory powers afforded to the Council under the provisions of Part III of the Food Act 1984 enabled the Council to:-
a) implement a markets policy within its area;
b) operate markets within Rotherham;
c) consider applications for other markets; and
d) determine whether such markets can be held by way of consent.
The existing Council policy allowed defined organisations, who wished to hold a temporary market for fund raising purposes which would otherwise infringe the Councils market franchise rights; to operate up to three car boot/table top sales/community markets per annum for a one off licence fee of £20. This policy aimed to allow genuine fund raising organisations to all have a fair ‘bite of the cherry’ and stop any one organisation dominating to the detriment of others.
Current practice had also been to licence for a nominal fee, events not run by the Council if they were either of strategic value to the Council or of a specialist nature such as collectors or computer fairs etc. and they did not pose any financial risk to the Council’s own operations. Historically, Council policy had always been to exclude the licensing of commercial retail markets that would have a detrimental effect on the Council’s own retail markets.
The Council's consent to a market, by the grant of a market licence, must be given prior to the event taking place. Any market that takes place without such a licence was in breach of the Markets Policy and may be subject to the enforcement action described in the Policy. Markets were only licensed once an application for a markets licence had been approved (and signed by both the Council and the Market Operator) and the appropriate fee received by the Council.
Recent legislative changes, in particular the European Services Directive have cast doubt upon whether market franchise rights could continue to be used to control rival operations suggesting that such actions could be considered to be anti–competitive and in breach of competition laws. This view was not shared by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) who had taken Counsel’s opinion on this matter and advising its members that market rights were still valid and fell outside of the scope of the European Services Directive.
However, it was important to ensure that any market rights policy was fair and consistent, enabling prospective market operators, whether charitable or commercial to submit an application which would be considered against reasoned criteria. These criteria included:-
· Public safety.
· The creation of new business opportunities and employment.
· Supporting a balanced market offer.
· Maintaining market standards.
It was proposed that the existing Council policy be updated and replaced with a new policy and pricing structure as detailed in the report submitted, which allowed for the licensing of private markets.
Recommended:- That the revised Market Rights Policy and pricing structure as outlined in the body of this report be approved and reviewed in twelve months time.