Subject: Kendal Markets


Dear Editor,

Alexander Candlin of the Westmorland Gazette recently asked South Lakes Labour Party for its views and information regarding the “outsourcing” of the running of the Kendal Markets by Lib Dem controlled S.L.D.C. This week’s edition (4/03/20) fails to mention any facts supplied by South Lakes Labour Party that have arisen whilst it has been involved with the Market Traders on this issue since October 2019. The article also implies that the Market Traders have not been informed as to what has been going on over recent months, and whilst this may be the case regarding S.L.D.C this is not entirely true, as the Market traders have been kept informed by South Lakes Labour Party via emails, hand delivered letters and invitations to three separate meetings to discuss the possibility of forming a Market Traders Cooperative or similar initiative. The Market Traders were fully informed by us that the bid process had been delayed in order to facilitate a Market Traders bid and in fact several Market Traders were present at a meeting between themselves, South Lakes Labour Party and S.L.D.C at Kendal Town Hall last year.

As a party that encourages local community involvement and disagrees with the “flogging” of off publicly owned assets South Lakes Labour really wants to see our local Kendal Markets run and managed effectively by those who have been entrusted with this task since 1974. The lack of investment and effective management over the years by S.L.D.C and Kendal Town Council has led to a capitulation and surrendering of their responsibility.

A South Lakes Labour Party survey involving Kendal Market Traders was undertaken last year after the “outsourcing” of the markets was announced and it concluded that 90% of Traders were opposed to outsourcing, 85% wanted the Lib Dem controlled S.L.D.C to continue running the market and 75% said that they had not been properly consulted.

It is now very unlikely that the Market Traders are are going to make a bid despite South Lakes Labour Party offering to help facilitate them forming some sort of cooperative. However South Lakes Labour Party will be actively campaigning on their behalf to make S.L.D.C and Kendal Town Council rethink their plans to “outsource” the markets. Especially in the light of Allerdale Borough Council’s recent decision to bring back “failed privatised” markets at Keswick, Wigton, Silloth and Workington into public sector management.

It is a real mark of a failing local authority when it cannot look after its own assets, when just down the road at Skipton, one of the North of England’s most successful markets, is managed entirely by Skipton Town Council.

Trevor Batchelor (Joint Campaign Coordinator South Lakes Labour Party)

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