Member question: Councillor Matthew Evans, received 6 August 2018
Subject: Newport Market
While the Conservative group welcomes proposals to regenerate Newport Market we are concerned that this was announced without any formal report to Cabinet. Can you confirm you were aware at the time of the press release that Mr Simon Baston the managing director of Loft Co holds 25 appointments at 25 active companies, has resigned from 18 companies and held 19 appointments at 19 dissolved companies ? Were you also aware there are many outstanding debts owed to businesses from companies he has owned ?
As Cabinet Member I am pleased to see that this regeneration package has the support of the Conservative group and can assure Cllr Evans that there was a formal “report” to Cabinet, but it was in the form of a Part 2 presentation rather than a formal written report.
Because of commercial confidentiality and the non-disclosure agreement with the prospective developer, details of the scheme could not be released until Cabinet had taken the “in principle” decision on the proposed development. Therefore, it was not possible to prepare a written Part 2 Cabinet report as that would have been circulated to all Council members. Once the confidential proposal had been agreed, then the key elements of the Cabinet decision and the reasons were clearly set out in the published Minutes, for the purposes of openness and transparency. This was exactly the same process adopted for Friars Walk, and for exactly the same reasons.
Cabinet have approved the granting of the development lease and the loan funding, subject to the completion of satisfactory legal and financial due diligence. Therefore, a detailed assessment will be carried out in relation to both the developer and the viability of the scheme before any final commitment; any issues of concern will be reported back to Cabinet for further consideration.
That said, extensive checks were made in relation to the developer’s track record in delivering these schemes, before the presentation to Cabinet. It is standard practice for developers to establish special purpose vehicle companies to develop schemes and then to dissolve those companies after the schemes have been completed.
I hope this provides you and the Conservative group the necessary confidence going forward. Issued 13 August 2018
Supplementary question: Councillor Chris Evans, received 30 April 2018
Subject: Newport Market - masterplan
Dear Cabinet Member... Thank you for your reply to my recent question and to the Leader for stating in full council ‘there is no master plan’ for our market, which rather contradicts what one trader has been stating - so, I ask again, is the Cabinet Member aware of a ‘master plan’ a trader has been working on? Has he ever met with that trader? Further, there are rumours that some market traders have been given reduced or free rent, is this true? how has this been worked out? If it is true then why have some traders been shown favour over others? Who decided upon this?
As one trader received free/reduced rent in lieu of work undertaken on the now disputed ‘masterplan’? If so how was this decided upon? Does the Cabinet Member still insist there is no ‘master plan’?
I can only reiterate the previous answer and the fact that there is no such ‘master plan’ for the market, despite what you may have been told. The only current 'masterplan' is the city centre Masterplan.
The council previously worked with one of the market traders, who had volunteered to develop a short-term marketing strategy to promote the market. This was agreed with the Market Traders Association. To compensate the trader for the time that he spent in undertaking this work, a temporary reduction in his rent was agreed, but this has now ceased. He was never commissioned to produce any masterplan for the future development of the market. That is something that officers have been instructed to undertake.
I can categorically assure you that no market tenants have been given favourable treatment in terms of their rent. Where rental reductions have been agreed, then they have been given to all traders, not just a select few. Issued 9 May 2018
Member question: Councillor Chris Evans, received 23 April 2018
Subject: Newport Market - masterplan
I have been made aware that there is a ‘master plan’ for Newport Market. Will the cabinet member make this master plan available for all to consider please?
As cabinet Member for the market I can confirm that there is not a specific masterplan for the market, although it is part of the wider city centre Masterplan.
I have directed officers to consider the long term future of the market and I will welcome making that available to all stakeholders at the appropriate stage of development. Issued 25 April 2018
Member question: Councillor Chris Evans, received 29 March 2018
Subject: Newport Market
Dear Cabinet Member ... I’m sure you will join me in officially congratulating Annette Farmer on her election as Chair of Newport Market Traders Association the first female Chair in its long history.
The Cabinet Member has previously stated that he has regular meetings with traders, can he assure us that he will arrange, as a matter of urgency, a meeting with the new Chair, which he hasn’t done since her election and pledge to hold monthly meetings thereafter? Also given the confusion regarding minutes/notes of meetings in the past will he commit to ensuring all future meetings are formal and properly recorded?
Dear Cllr Evans, of course I congratulate all representatives of the Market Traders Association upon their election. When officers are formally notified of the names of the new elected representatives, then they will be invited to all future liaison meetings, not just the next one.
The appointment of individuals to represent the interest of the traders at these meetings has always been a matter for the market traders to determine, not us, and we are happy to engage with any democratically elected representatives.
These meetings were introduced in order to promote a dialogue between the council and the traders and I trust that the traders will now use this route to make their representations and to support the process which has now been in existence for around 18 months.
I will of course attend these meetings personally where any strategic issues arise but any operational management issues will continue to be dealt with by the senior officers.
I will also ensure that notes and action points are recorded by officers and circulated to the attendees of the meeting, but commercial confidentiality must be respected and the ability to share confidential information at appropriate points.
I hope that you will accept that it is in the interests of all involved in and concerned with the future wellbeing of the market to ensure that these matters are approached sensibly and not to politicise and to seek to exploit them for party political advantage and I trust that all councillors will do their utmost to ensure that this is the case. Issued 6 April 2018
Member question: Councillor Ray Mogford, received 19 February 2018
Subject: Newport Market
Regarding this Administration saying that they have good relationships and communication channels with the traders of Newport Market, could you provide evidence in the form of minutes or notes of the regular and any ad hoc meetings that seemingly take place with a select group of Newport market traders.
Also how often do these meetings occur, who regularly attends from the Administration and in what capacity?
Please find action notes from the meetings between Newport City Council, Newport Norse and market traders representatives. Attendees of the meetings include the Cabinet Member for Assets, Councillor Whitcutt and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing, Councillor Mudd. Issued 7 March 2018
Member question: Councillor C Evans, received 7 February 2018
Subject: Market toilets
Dear cabinet member, during the run up to last year’s local elections your administration went to great lengths to illustrate your support for small business and our market with photo opportunities and the like, I’m sure you continue to visit and support our traders, even when there isn’t an election - on one of your visits have you had occasion to use the toilets?
If so, do you feel the standard of hygiene and maintenance is acceptable? Have you raised the issue with your friends at Norse? If so on what date? Can you provide a record of that meeting? If you haven’t, can you raise the issue immediately please.
Also, given the distributing rumours that addicts are using the toilets as a place to ‘shoot up’ highlighted by a recent incident can you tell me how often toilet checks are done and what procedures are in place to prevent the toilets becoming a shooting gallery.
Pictures of the gents toilets below, I'm told the ladies toilet is equally as bad.
The male, female and accessible toilets are cleaned every morning, along with spot checks that are completed every two hours throughout every day of the premise being open.
In addition to this routine, spot cleaning is undertaken as and when reports or comments are received. There has been an agreement in principle that the toilet provision will be improved. Officers are working on details to ensure the correct and appropriate standards of improvement are incorporated within the improvements in order to address the concerns. Issued 21 February 2018
Member question: Councillor M Evans, received 26 January 2018
Subject: Ownership of land - Centurion Inn, Heather Road, Beechwood
With regards to the Centurion Inn on Heather Road, Beechwood. My understanding is NCC owns the land on which this pub is located. Has this land been transferred from the council to Newport City Homes or any other company? If so, when was did this occur?
I have been informed P and P Building Contractors are on site. On their website, they list NCH as one of their clients. Can you give us any assurances that the land will not be developed for housing?
The council does own the freehold interest in the Centurion Inn on Heather Road. It is subject to a lease for a term of 99 years from 29 September 1958. P & P Building and Roofing Contractors Limited acquired the leasehold interest on 19 January 2018.
The lease contains provision that the premises are to be used as a public house. The council could consent to a different use but it is not obliged to agree to such a change. No request for a change of use has been made. Issued 2 February 2018
Member question: Councillor C Townsend, received 27 June 2017
Subject: Living Wage - suppliers and partners
Can the Cabinet Member outline the administration’s policy on requiring suppliers and partners to pay the Living Wage.
Can the Cabinet Member confirm that the following organisations are known to the council to be paying the living wage?
- Newport Live
- EAS Wales
- Newport Norse
The council has paid the foundation living wage by means of a non-contractual supplement to pay since April 2015 when single status was implemented for the NJC workforce who are directly employed by the council.
Newport Live and Newport Norse pay foundation living wage to the transferred workforce and the EAS has introduced foundation living wage since the transfer that took place in 2012.
Wastesavers have partial payment – there are some staff who do not currently receive it.
If council staff transfer to an external provider, then they are contractually required to pay the Living wage to transferring staff who continue to be engaged in the provision of council services.
Existing contractors and suppliers are encouraged to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis, but there is no legal requirement to do so.
With new contracts, there is no blanket policy of requiring all suppliers and contractors to pay the Living Wage, as this could be regarded as anti-competitive and a breach of procurement rules.
However, each new contract will be considered on its merits to assess whether the imposition of this requirement is appropriate and justifiable, having regard to the types of services being commissioned. Issued 11 July 2017
Member question: Councillor C Evans, received 26 May 2017
Subject: Market signage
Dear Cabinet Member, I've been contacted by our market traders (see below) who are concerned about the lack of adequate signage promoting our market, will you take on board this feedback and work with Newport Norse to address the issue as a matter of urgency.
Thank you for the question. The need to improve the business environment and footfall of the Newport Market is a priority for the administration and better signage is an aspect of this which is already under consideration.
I meet with the market traders regularly and we are constantly looking to advance the cause of the market’s businesses. This is one of many things we discuss jointly with the market traders face to face on a regular basis.
As you will be aware, several key improvements were made to signage for the market as part of the Market refurbishment programme undertaken in 2013, with the installation of the steel ring above the market entrance and the monolith on High Street having been completed.
More recently, updated signage at Newport Market has had a comprehensive ‘refresh’ of its branding and identity and this has followed into a marketing plan which has externally ‘signposted’ the market and has included bus advertising (rears, internals, tickets), print (South Wales Argus, Voice Media, Go Local Publication, Market Trader Magazine, Newport Matters) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).
The market now also has its own leaflet which has been distributed across the city centre as well as an internal newsletter which is circulated bi-monthly to all traders and focused on some key areas, including a banner on High Street, High Street main wall, few on Dock Street, lamp post banners and finger posts.
In addition, the market is always featured in the annual Eating Out guide, and business brochures and the food festival is heavily orientated towards attracting people to the market.
Footfall counters are in the final stages of being procured for the market to provide better and more accurate information on the footfall throughout the week. Issued 7 June 2017