Grants paid to Calderdale market businesses to help them through pandemic
Grants have been paid to market businesses to help them through the pandemic as the council juggles bad debts and financial pressures, councillors heard.
Finance manager Paul Greenwood told councillors there were budget pressures of around £240,000.
However, councillors were reminded that the markets service as a whole makes money for Calderdale but not as much as had been budgeted.
The main issues are a forecast in shortfall of income of £189,000 from Halifax Borough Market and a shortfall of income of £20,000 from Todmorden market hall – as well as a £74,000 forecast pressure from car boot sales in Halifax and Brighouse.
Around £45,000 worth of impact from the ongoing pandemic are also an issue, but this may be met by central Government funding.
There has been no income from the car boot sales since they closed, but costs have continued to be incurred – councillors were told staff have been redeployed to other services and are still on the council’s books.
Options to save money in the years ahead have been considered and agreed, with a caveat that some of these may be offset by reductions in rent for the borough market at Halifax
Bad debts are an issue and provision has also had to be made for these – councillors heard although it has taken further action to recover any outstanding rents, the council is legally prevented from undertaking any further enforcement action until March 2022 because of the ongoing pandemic.
Government grants paid to tenants of the indoor markets in the previous financial year saw a total of 49 tenants in Halifax Borough Market receive the, totalling £505,000.
One tenant received a grant of £25,000 and the remainder £10,000 grants.
A total of 23 tenants at Todmorden Market Hall each received a £10,000 grant award, totalling £230,000.
In April 2021 further grants totalling £169,000 were also paid to various tenants of the indoor markets.
Calderdale Council Cabinet Markets Working Party noted the report, particularly the current position regarding Halifax Borough Market and Todmorden Market Hall rents, and potential bad debts.
Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) thanked officers for compiling the report and giving a realistic picture of the situation.
Mr Greenwood said Coun Blagbrough made a very good point – it was one of the issues councillors would have to consider when aligning council budgets in future years.
Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said times had been difficult for people through the pandemic and the council had tried to get the grant money into traders’ pockets, enabling them to “ride out the storm” and carry on trading.
Coun Amanda Parsons-Hulse (Lib Dem, Warley) said recruitment and incentives to encourage new traders to fill empty units and start businesses was also a consideration.
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