Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-79)|
Wednesday 12 May 2004
MR PAUL THOMPSON of BIRCHAM DYSON BELL appeared as
60. MR TURNER: Not none but it was a very
small number, and the majority of the dwellings there were tied
to the premises, so pubs and things.
61. SIR JOHN BUTTERFILL: Do you think
there is a realistic possibility that any of the freeholders in
this area may not be fully aware of your proposals?
62. MR TURNER: It is certainly not impossible.
It has, obviously, been advertised in the London Gazette, so
large freeholders would be aware.
63. SIR JOHN BUTTERFILL: But smaller
ones may not be.
64. MR TURNER: Smaller ones may not,
that is true.
65. SIR JOHN BUTTERFILL: The other thing
that concerns me slightly is the suggestion - and I think the
Joint Committee says they think there probably will be issues
under Article 8(1) - that the interference would be justifiable
under Article 8(2), namely the overriding public interest. I
can see that there could be an overriding public interest but
for the fact that the Council is proposing to deal exclusively
with a co-operative of the existing market traders and there was
a proposal to put the thing out to tender. In the majority of
private interests being considered in this, to what extent is
there an overriding public interest?
66. MR THOMPSON: I think we need there
to distinguish between the management of the market and the operation
of it in the public interest. The Council takes the view, as
has happened to date, that it is good management and efficient
to out-source the management. So that is the issue. The question
then is: how do you out-source it? Do you out-source it on a
competitive tendering basis or not? In this instance it did contemplate
that. There was, rightly or wrongly, a substantial degree of
public disquiet expressed about it and, therefore, for the Council
to resolve that, in seeking to listen to the voices of the area,
they have said "We will negotiate with the market traders
about a new contract." That is still on the basis of delivering
Best Value. Perhaps I can ask Mr Chippendale to comment on that.
The intention is to provide for management of the market in the
best interests of the community. That would be the Council's
position on that. Is that right?
67. MR CHIPPENDALE: Yes, that is correct.
We will still be following the same line as we would have taken
had we been going out to competitive tender, in that we would
have appointed agents who will be drawing up the specification
for how we wish to see the market developed and managed. Having
got to that stage we are now offering the existing co-operative
the opportunity to demonstrate to us that they can meet those
targets and objectives. If they can then we are quite happy for
them to run the market; if they are unable to do so then we will
grant a competitive tender.
68. SIR JOHN BUTTERFILL: What sort of
financial benefit would accrue to the Council as a result of this?
Have you made some estimates?
69. MR CHIPPENDALE: I have not, to be
perfectly honest, but obviously we, as a Council will need to
demonstrate that we are getting best consideration, and any financial
offer made to us we will have to consider and make sure that that
70. JOHN AUSTIN: Is your argument that
the management of the market is irrelevant, or superfluous, to
the provisions of the Bill?
71. MR THOMPSON: We believe that it
is, yes. The Bill does not seek to make arrangements for the
management of the market, merely the facility to overcome the
difficulty of running the market on an expanded basis on those
highways. The management of the market with or without this Bill
proceeds as a separate issue. We have not sought to address that
in the Bill. If I can come back to the finance point, can I invite
Mr Chippendale or Mr Turner to indicate the degree of investment
that the Council has made in the market? It is a public facility,
if you like, which is viewed as of value and benefit to the community
and in revitalising the town centre. It is not a milk cow, if
you like; there has had to be a degree of investment. Is that
72. MR CHIPPENDALE: That is correct.
It is an on-going investment. Obviously there are infrastructure
issues, under the highway, to provide electricity. We are, as
part of a further scheme, looking to bring the Town Hall back
into use as a public building, and as part of that redevelopment
we are looking to provide washing facilities for the market in
that position. I do not know the exact cost but it is not an
73. MR TURNER: The other thing worth
mentioning is that we have also paid for a whole set of new stalls
which, although they may not look substantial, are not inexpensive.
74. SIR JOHN BUTTERFILL: Does the market
make a profit for the town?
75. MR CHIPPENDALE: We receive a fee.
The Council receives a net fee.
76. SIR JOHN BUTTERFILL: Does that exceed
77. MR CHIPPENDALE: Yes.
78. SIR JOHN BUTTERFILL: I would like
to pursue these matters a little further, if I may, Chairman.
I am not entirely convinced about the public interest, except
that it may benefit other traders. What does concern me is that
it is very easy nowadays to identify all the freeholders from
the Land Registry; you just pay a fee - £25 or whatever it
is - draw a line round all that lot, you send it off, you get
it back and you write to them. Why did you not write to all the
freeholders? Why did you not take that elementary precaution?
79. MR TURNER: We asked the occupiers
to pass it on to the freeholders, which I accept is not the same
as writing to the Land Registry, but Ipswich has not been a compulsory
registration area for such a long time that, necessarily, every
piece of land would be registered.