Opposition councillors call in Doncaster and Mexborough markets privatisation plans for scrutiny
Opposition councillors have requested further debate surrounding a move to hand over the running of Doncaster and Mexborough markets to a private operator.
Elected cabinet members agreed to hand the markets operation council officers’ preferred bidder, Essex-based Market Asset Management (Doncaster) Ltd on Tuesday (Jan 29).
But Mexborough First councillor Sean Gibbons said outsourcing the market operation was a ‘cop-out’ and the town should be considered in its own right.
Local authority bosses have said the move will save the council £219k per year which includes a ‘guaranteed annual income’ of £122k.
The market company changed its’ named from Market Asset Management (Rochdale) Ltd after they were told by Rochdale Council they were no longer needed following a dispute in September last year.
The arrangement means Doncaster Council continue to own the market buildings with MAM (Doncaster) Ltd being responsible for staffing, management and maintenance.MAM (Doncaster) has told the council it will make a ‘significant investment’ in the markets of £2.3m in the first five years with £6.2m invested over the proposed 25 year contract.
“The length of contract with it being 25 years is an awfully long time and we feel the deal needs to be looked at further - maybe to be run for a 10 year period initially.
“The council has spent around £500,000 in Mexborough and we’re not realising the benefits of that – it just feels like its a bit of a cop-out to outsource it.
“We’re concerned there will be increased focus on Doncaster town centre and market because Mexborough needs that prominence and that priority.
“We’ve been fighting since 2015 for urban master plan for Mexborough which it looks like the work on that will start this coming March but we feel this should factored in with that because the market is in the heart of the town centre.
“We should so this as apposed to jumping the gun because it suits Doncaster to piggy-back Mexborough rather than looking at us as a principal town in our own right – we shouldn’t be dovetailed in.”