Thanet council to end contract with Ramsgate Market organiser and invite bids to create ‘Canterbury’ style stalls

Ramsgate market Photo Maxine Morgan

Thanet council is planning an overhaul to Ramsgate Market to create a new Canterbury style format with gazebos and themed days.

The arrangement with the current organiser, organiser Hughmark, is to be ended with the contract going out to tender.

The market shut when covid restrictions were brought in during March. It briefly reopened in June but issues around placement meant the market closed again. A new site proposed for Pier Yard car park on the seafront was scuppered at the 11th hour.

Traders were finally given the go-ahead to use Staffordshire Street car park, taking space in several disabled parking bays.

But there was a drop in traders taking part on Fridays and none willing to set up for business at the site on Saturdays.

The low number of stall meant falling income, with Hughmark making a decision to cease trade in the town.

The cost in business rates to Thanet council for the market each year is £16,604. The market operator is expected to pay TDC alf of the net income. However, there has was not a profit to split during August and September with the market making losses.

A report to Thanet council Cabinet members, who are due to meet next week, says: “As the market operator is no longer able to operate the Staffordshire Street market due to a decrease in traders willing to participate in the market, alternative locations for the market have been considered, but they would not comply with existing COVID restrictions.

“The council acknowledges the benefits of a diverse market on the local community, consumers and traders alike and remains determined to restore a market in Ramsgate. It is therefore proposed to market the opportunity in a new format -Canterbury Model – with diverse themes on different days, high-quality goods, coordinating gazebos), and subsequently extend the exercise to local tender to grant a service concession contract to operate the new market.”

Cabinet members are expected to agree to cease the arrangement with Hughmark in favour of a new operator.

The procurement of the new market will be developed within the next six months with consideration given to the location, potential COVID-19

Restrictions and diversity of market goods with periods of specialist markets such as for Halloween, Christmas and Easter.

The report says: “As part of the new market development exercise, the council will engage with Ramsgate Town Council as well as welcome input from all potential vendors.”

Cabinet members will discuss the issue on October 22.