Doncaster markets:  Privatisation was an ‘executive decision’ to ‘avoid embarrassment’ in the council chamber, councillor claims

An opposition councillor has claimed senior Doncaster Council officers made an executive decision to privatise the markets to ‘avoid embarrassment in the council chamber’.

Thursday, 21st February 2019, 3:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st February 2019, 3:47 pm
Coun Andy Pickering

Mexborough First group leader Coun Andy Pickering made the remarks after a closed doors meeting approved handing over the running of both Doncaster and Mexborough markets to Essex-based Markets Asset Management. 

Coun Pickering said the council may be ‘using executive decisions’ to ‘bulldoze through actions’ that they consider might not be supported in a democratic vote at full council. 

Labour Town ward CounTosh McDonald

Doncaster Council refused to comment. 

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Council bosses claim the 25-year contract will save the council £219,000 per year and will pay a guaranteed income for the local authority of £122,000 from both markets.

MAM has told the council it is committed to investing £2.21 million in the first five years and £3.86 million over the next 20 years in Doncaster Market.

The private operator has allocated £90,000 in the first five years for Mexborough with £2,000 per year for 20 years after that.

One source inside the meeting said the majority of the 20 plus councillors who attended seemed against the proposal of handing the markets over to a private firm while another councillor who didn’t wished to be named said ‘local democracy is dead’. 

Coun Pickering said: “We are very disappointed that Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee, having heard the clear weight of evidence we presented at the call in meeting still voted to allow the deal to continue. However, we are not surprised.

“DMBC appear to think that outsourcing  management is a great cure all, and that by handing the markets to a private operator it will result in quickfire success .

“We think officers and cabinet are so impressed by the glossy website's, and optimistic visions showing nothing but success that they appear to be blinded to the realities that we have seen .

“DMBC may have made this an executive decision in order to avoid embarrassment in the council chamber.

“As in the case of the closure of Doncaster's old people's homes which we opposed in 2014, I feel DMBC may be using executive decisions to bulldoze through actions that they consider might not be supported in the chamber.”

Labour Town ward councillors Tosh and Nikki McDonald, said: "It says a lot when all six councillors where the markets are situated were all against the proposal. We were not consulted at all.

"We respect collective responsibility and if this vote was put before the Labour group and it was voted through, then we'd respect that decision.

"But we never had that chance. This isn't democracy at all."

Coun Dave Shaw, also a Labour Town ward member, said he was ‘disappointed’ at the decision but hoped it would work for the businesses and traders.