This week's readers' letter: Promises haven't been kept for Doncaster markets

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Thursday, 1st July 2021, 12:24 pm
Doncaster Market Place, Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley
Doncaster Market Place, Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley

I hope this letter alerts the people of Doncaster to the situation regarding the operation of Doncaster and Mexborough Markets.

I have been a stall holder on Doncaster market on Wednesdays for 21 years.

When planning improvements to the Wool Market, Irish Market and Outdoor Market a few years ago, Doncaster Council were advised by Quarterbridge, a company which claimed expertise in this matter.

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A completion of the renovations Quarterbridge recommended DMBC could save operating costs by handing over management of the markets to a private company, Markets Asset Management, which proved to be Quarterbridge by another name.

They promised to spend £6.2 million on further improvements and to pay DMBC £122,000 annually.

After two years neither promise has been kept. Indeed MAM has taken a gift of £910,000 from DMBC and, as Doncaster Free Press reported on June 10 made an annual loss of £99,195 in 2019-2020.

Management by MAM has been disastrous but they blame the Covid pandemic for reducing footfall. This is irrelevant to the prosperity of MAM. They get their income as rents the stallholders pay and which they have continued to receive despite three periods of lockdown.

These rents are not affected by the numbers of potential customers walking by but by the numbers of occupied stalls.

Throughout their management MAM have used various measures to discourage stallholders and to deter people from becoming stallholders.

For example, rents in the Wool market were set at sky-high figures, rendering most businesses unviable, despite introductory offers.

The requirement to be open six days a week was also a great disencentive. No wonder there are redundant stalls as George Torr mentioned.

Full rent has to be paid for 52 weeks even when the stalls cannot be used.

Is it any wonder that long standing stallholders are giving up?

Those that have left have never been replaced. The vacancies are never advertised.

I cling on at the age of 81 because I don’t want MAM to think that they are winning in this programme of destruction.

It would be in the public interest if the 25 year contract between DMBC and MAM were cancelled before they can do anymore damage.

Mr A Jackson

Windsor Crescent, Scunthorpe