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Town councillors could get more say over Dorchester Market

Dorchester Market LDR TB

Published at 10:40am 12th February 2019.

Town councillors in Dorchester may have more influence over the management of the town markets in future – although not outright control.

  • Town councillors could have more say over how the town's markets are run.
  • The market has a net income of around £140,000 a year.
  • The Town Council has long argued it wants control of the market.

New proposals, if approved, will hand over some of the market management functions to the town council.

At the moment the market, which has a net income of around £140,000, is run by a joint panel made up of the district council and the town council. Any profits are shared 65/35.

Dorchester Town Council has long argued that it should have control of the market which, it argues, was granted to the town by a Royal Charter in 1629: Under current proposals It will transfer to the new unitary Dorset Council in April.

An agreement between the district and town councils to jointly run the markets was settled in 1984 after a 10-year dispute about who should be in charge.

dorchester market

'What would the proposals mean?'

New proposals will now go before the joint markets committee  tomorrow (13 February) suggesting that the town council becomes responsible for the governance administration, financial administration, car boot administration and liaison with the market operators.

A paper before the committee argues that unless new arrangements are brought in the market will slip down the priority list for officer support under the new Dorset Council. It claims that the job will be better carried out by the town council.

The report, compiled by town council clerk Adrian Stuart, says the town council role would include co-ordinating meetings, reviewing agreements, managing the finances, supporting the work of the car boot panel and its awards panel, as well as operational liaison with the Wednesday market, the Sunday car boot sales, Corn Hill market, the Farmers Market and any other occasional markets in the town.

Mr Stuart says the work would not include managing the actual Fairfield nor liaison with the lessees of the Cornmarket building (Dukes), or the Market Cafe, and neither will it include the legal work associated with the market operators. It will also not include the licensing or prosecution of rival markets: “The Town Council recognises that this work is best managed as part of the new Dorset Council’s overall legal workload and is closely linked to the management of the property portfolio,” said Mr Stuart’s report.

If the joint markets committee agree to the recommendations it would still need to win the approval of the shadow Dorset Council executive before any changes were made.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter

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