Kendal Indoor Market © Trevor Batchelor
Kendal Indoor Market © Trevor Batchelor

“Westmorland and Lonsdale Labour Party opposes this entirely unnecessary privatisation. The market is part of Kendal’s identity. For it to remain at the heart of the community, it must belong to the community. In our view, South Lakeland District Council is rejecting and denying its responsibilities to nurture the market on behalf of the market traders and the people of Kendal. That the council pleads they lack skills to operate the market is disgraceful. They should listen to market traders ideas and find ways to apply the best of these, whilst retaining council management on the behalf of us all.”
Paul Braithwaite, Chair, Westmorland and Lonsdale Labour Party.

The Westmorland and Lonsdale Labour Party surveyed the opinion of twenty indoor and outdoor market traders about South Lakeland District Council’s plans to privatise Kendal market. We asked seven questions based upon different models of market management as described in the Department for Communities and Local Government publication “Retail Markets Management Models”.   The survey was statistically significant. The survey was kept anonymous. (The results have been presented in percentage terms, 1 market trader = 5%)

There was an extremely high level of consensus and certainty on four questions.

  • 90% felt that business was worse than in the past.
  • 90% felt that the market should not be run by a private company.
  • 85% felt that the council should continue to manage the market.
  • 70% said “No” when asked if S.L.D.C. had properly consulted market traders.  (A common response was “not really”, and “only sort of”.)

None of the market traders asked wanted a private company to run the market. One trader said, “The market has to be commercial, but the council should be about people’s interests both public and traders, a private company will only have their own profits at heart”.

There was less consensus and more uncertainty on other alternative models of market management, 45% felt that the market could be managed by traders themselves while 30% did not know, 40% felt the market could be managed by the community, and 40% felt it should not. The Labour Party believes a higher level of consensus would be needed before these other models can be advocated by us.

One market trader felt the council should not run the market, because they did not consider that the council had the ability to do so. Another market trader felt “the council has little imagination and little idea of how to encourage a market to grow” another said “the council policy is extremely short-sighted”.  When asked “What improvements would you like to see made to the market”, one said, “The council should employ a manager with the job of helping the market and the town centre to grow.”

There were many ideas voiced on how, under council management, business could be improved, but universal opposition of this by a private company.  The Labour Party has circulated the results of the survey to market traders and invited responses.

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