‘Significant number of unanswered questions’ surrounding privatisation of Doncaster and Mexborough markets say councillors
Opposition councillors have said there are a ‘significant number of unanswered questions’ over plans to privatise Doncaster and Mexborough markets.
Doncaster Council announced they were handing over the running of both markets to Essex-based Markets Assets Management in a 25-year contract.
Council bosses have said MAM will be investing £2.21 million in the first five years and £3.86 million over the next 20 years in Doncaster Market.
New details reveal Mexborough Market will get £393,000 from Doncaster Council for ‘essential roof repairs, external decoration, an internal refurbishment and important electrical works’.
MAM has allocated £90,000 for further improvements including redecoration, better lighting and enhancements to the outdoor market like new signage in the first five years.
Another £40,000, or £2,000 per annum until the end of the contract, will also be spent by MAM.
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.
But Mexborough First Coun Sean Gibbons said it was ‘still not clear how and if this investment is deliverable’.
He said the party were in the process of calling in the decision for scrutiny and said they had ‘wider concerns’ surrounding the deal.
"Whilst we welcome much needed and overdue investment in our indoor and fish market, it is still not clear how and if this investment is deliverable,” he said.
“We have wider concerns, not just for Mexborough, but for the whole markets estate across the borough, especially given the desire to appoint an external company to run our markets for the next 25 years.
“There are still a considerable and significant number of unanswered questions which must be addressed through the call in process which Mexborough First and other parties are currently progressing.”
Coun Glyn Jones, deputy mayor of Doncaster, said: “Mexborough Market is a social meeting place at the heart of the community. This transformation will build on this whilst attracting new customers.
“To achieve this, there will be significant investment made and we are appointing an innovative markets operator who will use their expertise to improve the customer experience and ensure the market is the hub of Mexborough town centre.
“There will be improvements made to the market building and plenty of new ideas to provide a nurturing ground for new and budding entrepreneurs.”
Council bosses said the vision for Mexborough Market will see it complement the town masterplan which is currently being drawn up.
The council’s cabinet agreed to appoint MAM as the new operator of Mexborough and Doncaster Markets for a 25 year period last month.
A special scrutiny meet is expected to take place in the coming weeks.