The main crux of the problem to recap is that the market move has drastically reduced the footfall with most traders working at a loss week on week hanging in there with the hope that things will improve. But there is only so long that you can finance losses... and with an average weekly takings for some store holders of less than the rent... we're talking takings here not profit... the end of the line is near for many.
So with the council saying that it's down to Town & Country Markets as they are operators of the market and with Town and Country saying they are in for the long haul and they want the market to work, but won't budge on the rent issue... we enter a period of stale mate? ... or rather we don't! Talking to traders today many of them; and that is 10 or more, are prepared to walk if this issue is not resolved. Quite simply something has to give. With so many units empty already (5+) it's clearly not as easy to attract new stall holders as some would have you believe!
|Saturday Morning on the New Watford Market|
I haven't seen the exact figures, but I know that from the income collected by Town & Country markets from the traders rents a fixed portion is passed to the Council for the privilege of operating the market, with a percentage of the profits too. So in rosy times all looks well... but what about when things are bad... where there are no profits and the traders are losing money... Who picks up the tab in the bad times.... errr... the traders it looks like.... the council still get paid... Town & Country claw as much income as they can from loss making businesses... doesn't this strike you as just a tad unfair?
Nothing short of waiving rents, returning to a three day week and bringing a new portfolio of businesses into the market with a rent free window is going to deliver. A proper steering group (with teeth) for the new market was another great suggestion, set up to ensure that the Infrastructure needs, trading portfolio and marketing messages put out there created an exciting destination that people would want to visit. The traders have given all there is to give, I see it in their faces week after week. This is not a doom and gloom post I believe we can turn it around, and as readers of my posts will know I am a massive fan of the market. I am oft chastised for reporting bad news about the market as it will drive people away... there is no one left to drive away... wake up!! ... the game is up... a heavy dose of reality is required it has gone beyond a 'bit of bad news'!
+Kate Leach (Watford For You) was also at the meeting last night, she has promised to air the plight of the market at their gathering tomorrow. The Mayor will be there along with many of the other larger businesses of Watford. The clock is ticking there are only a few days before the rent rises kick in... I do hope that there is a mad rush of sanity and someone makes a good decision before the next play kicks off... otherwise I can't help thinking that this might just become a local election issue very soon!