Manager speaks out over prices at Piece Hall's festive event in market review

Calderdale Councils Markets Manager, John Walker,
Calderdale Councils Markets Manager, John Walker,

A report by Calderdale Council's market manager has reviewed the festive markets throughout the borough and has been critical of the events held at the Piece Hall.

The review by John Walker looked at festive activities throughout the borough involving the market department at the Council.

He gave a summary of the positive and negatives of each event and what could be done in the future.

At a previous meeting of the Cabinet Market Working Party, members requested Mr Walker begin discussions with the Piece Hall Trust to assist with any proposed market events to held within the Piece Hall Courtyard.

Mr Walker held a meeting with the Chief Executive of the Piece Hall Trust and outlined suggestions and possible traders for the introductory period with particular emphasis on the need to promote local producers and retailers.

Further discussions with the Piece Hall Trust took place in September about the provision of Christmas events.

Talks centred around the provision of chalet type stalls for Christmas activity and a further suggestion of bringing an 80 Chalet type German style market, delivered through the Council's International Market contractor was also explored.

However both were discounted, as the Piece Hall Trust 'had already determined activity and themes for the Christmas period'.

"They (the Piece Hall Trust) requested that we operate a similar arrangements to how we deliver all other community market events," said Mr Walker.

"It was agreed that the Piece Hall Trust would establish their own activity, with advise on procedures provided by the Markets Manager.

Mr Walker said as the events commenced on the same day as Sowerby Bridge Totally Locally market it 'reduced the opportunity to attract more traders, particularly as the majority of the Councils stalls were also at this venue'.

"Stall occupancy throughout the week was erratic, resulting in a poor impression of both a market and the Piece Hall.

"Average charges throughout the event were relatively high for an initial event and particularly in competition with other established events in the region.

"The catering concession charges also appeared excessive in the initial year of the Piece Hall’s activity. All of which could be increased should the event establish itself.

"The market was subject to much social media criticism and needs to improve to the requirement of the community if it is to achieve its potential as a major Christmas destination."

The Christmas event in Mytholmroyd was a success according to Mr Walker.

The event was brought forward so as not to compete with other major towns and so it could have the maximum impact for Royd Regeneration in driving footfall to the town.

"The event was a great success for Mytholmroyd and compliments were received from Royd Regeneration in regards to the efforts of the team.

" It is anticipated that this will now form an annual event on this weekend in future years and assist Mytholmroyd to flourish as a town."

The annual Lamplighter festival in Todmorden brings in around 6,000 people to the town.

The Lamplighter festival in Todmordenl is an annual event that brings in the region of 6,000 people to the town and is one of the biggest attractions to Todmorden.

Unfortunately, according to Mr Walker, no dialogue took place prior to the event with traders and several issues with both road and car park closures which inhibited trade to both markets. Car park and road closures were put into place prior to agreement and had a restrictive effect upon trade.

However meetings have been scheduled to open early dialogue to help traders at this year's event.

In Brighouse Mr Walker noted that whilst the market was both well occupied and frequented there were several comments that the Victorian theme, which was dropped last year, should continue.

He is set to explore options with the Brighouse Business Initiative on how these markets can continue to be successful with their own unique style.

The market of Elland was subject to a Royal Charter granted on 24 February 1317, as the town celebrated its 700th birthday

Whilst the festive event was not as well attended as those in elsewhere in the borough, Mr Walker said the community supported the event and the only criticism from traders related to the provision of electricity to the car park stalls.

The Markets Service will look to explore the potential of periodic market events, to assist in the regeneration of Elland as a town centre.

The Sowerby Bridge Totally Locally event attracted a good customer base with many of the traders reporting the customer base.

The largest cost of operating this market is the provision of reindeers to support Santa Claus, followed by the cost of providing the stalls which are more than offset by the income generated. The only negative comment from this years event was that it should be promoted more said Mr Walker.

Apart from slight operational issues at the Ripponden market, Mr Walker said that dialogue has already commenced with regards to this year’s event which will be held on December 1 with focus on how this market can be continually improved, along with understanding its impacts upon the local economy.