Markets make small profit

New market food hall, Wakefield.'w2644n030
New market food hall, Wakefield.'w2644n030
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MARKETS made the council a small profit last year – despite suggestions some could be closed or privatised to save cash.

Overall spending on the district’s markets fell during the past three years as £5.2m was generated.

A cost-saving review has been launched which could see struggling markets ditched by the council, which will see £67m slashed from its budget in the next four years.

But figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show annual spending on markets fell from £1.98m in 2008-09 to £1.65m last year.

Income also fell, from £1.8m in 2008-09, to £1.75m and £1.7m last year. The markets lost money in 2008/9, but income exceeded expenditure by £70,000 in 2009-10 and £51,000 last year.

Lisa Dodd, the council’s service director for markets, said: “Although markets are important to communities and to the local economy, we have to be open-minded, innovative and prepared to make changes to keep pace with modern demands and expectations.”

Figures on income generated by each individual market were not available.

But Mrs Dodd said shopping habits were changing and it was increasingly difficult to attract new stall holders to some markets.

The occupancy rate was 88 per cent at Wakefield’s £3m market hall and 90 per cent at Ossett Market

But just 44 per cent of Hemsworth’s open market and 57 per cent of South Elmsall open market was occupied.

Ms Dodd said the council was working hard to attract new traders. She said: “A report on how we deliver markets in the future, taking all this into account, will be going to cabinet in due course.”

Traders’ groups, town and parish councils and private companies could run markets in future under the plan.

Some could potentially close if nobody comes forward to take them over.