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.

29 Comments

    • Perhaps I have just misunderstood this article, but why is there a cost of £16000 business rates to the council? What are the rates for, they are not using any buildings.

      • Phil – This is clearly yet another ineffective commercial decision by TDC as the officers and members have little business acumen.

        Every market is rated as it is a business the same as any other – the rates being linked to the rent payable for the use of the land, and the stall frontage. Normally the market organiser would pay a fee to TDC for use and occupation of a designated area – and that occupation is rateable. The market rates would normally be payable by the market organiser – not by TDC – hence this is clearly not a viable commercial operation.

        If, say, a car park was used to locate the market on certain days, the number of available parking spaces would be reduced, thereby reducing the income to TDC from parking revenue which in turn would reduce the rates payable by TDC on its own car park.

        I hope that helps to explain.

  1. Could TDC not allow RTC to organise and run the market? RTC have a much better understanding of what Ramsgate needs.

  2. Could be brilliant for the town. In West Norwood a small, badly attended street market grew in 3 years to a 5 site themed monthly market (with regular weekly smaller markets on the weeks in between ) – the Norwood Feast draws people from across South London for the various zones: artisan food, crafts, vintage, family and health as well as the regular trader set up. It can be done.

  3. The whole car park behind Iceland is about the only decent location I can think of. Also in these hard times stall costs need to be minimal to encourage local entrepreneurs and traders priced out of the High street a chance to experiment with new products and ideas without cripling them financially.

  4. Ramsgate Market is rubbish now compared to back in the day when it was held at the greyhound stadium. Maybe they could use the garden centre carpark?

  5. We had a brilliant market at dumpton every Friday , many years ago , to be honest I think market days are over now.

  6. Great idea in the right location. It could work with safe distancing in the middle of Queen Street, the High Street and King Street. Gazebos take up much less space than Market Stalls. (How many times has a Fire Engine, Ambulance or Police Car needed access to the pedestrianised area on a Market Day? I think never)The Hand Made Fair could join in too. 6 months is too long to organise. It needs to be jumped on, actioned and implemented forthwith. RTC will make it a success.

  7. A good idea which would improve the high street no end & bring much needed footfall to our sadly neglected High st. maybe mix the pitches up with Decent street food, vintage stalls, old records etc like the occasional & very popular Addison street markets which attracts 1,000s TDC needs to move With the times & explore other avenues to boost this great town’s economy.

  8. I hope the regular stalls-greengrocer, plants etc – will be there every week. What will there be at Halloween? Expensive Chinese twt instead of cheap? More pumpkins to be wasted rather than cooked?

    When will councils learn that out-of-town shopping centres ruin town centres?

  9. Excellent idea. French markets are wonderful. Stop having usual tat and theme it. Plants always did well. Have visited Truro market lots of times. Think outside the box a bit. Don’t charge large amounts for stalls.

  10. Romford market, Rochester market and Dumpton market were all great markets until local councils tried to “improve ” them they encourage much needed footfall into local towns. Rates should be kept to a minimum to encourage new stallholders and give them some hope of a profit.

  11. Big mountain to climb to achieve a quality and thriving market , in relality the council needs to pay decent stallholders to attend as they’ll be running at a loss until the market gains a reputation. The market as it was over the last few years was more a scene from the living dead than a thriving enterprise.
    As memtioned above the last decent market was at the racetrack , but that was in a different era , ramsgate does’nt have enough customers interested in quality and it’ll take time to increase the numbers. Perhaps better to have a series of one off events at bank holidays etc to spark a bit of a revival.
    The last really successful event in ramsgate was “ramsgate rocks” there was a real buzz and enthusiasm around it, i thought it would turn into an annual event but it seemed to be a one off.
    A market stuck on the corner of nowhere is always going to struggle to attract enough people with money to spend and its not as if ramsgate has anything much else to draw them in these days, especially outside of the summer months when the harbour bars and eateries tend to be less attractive and popular.
    Baby steps and investment from the council needed rather than an attempt to make money from the get go.

  12. Oh for heaven”s sake! “A scene from the living dead”? No it wasn’t. People like markets. It’s not because they don’t that Ramsgate market has shrunk over recent decades . It’s because of bloody Westwood Cross, and now online shopping.

    • I was referring to the patrons, coughing and spluttering as they puffed on their fags and stumbled around in their grubby tracksuits and joggers.

  13. Aspirations are great but is this the right time for them? Co-ordinated gazebos are going to be expensive for anyone wishing to run a new market, both in cost and storage. Sounds too much like the old stallholders, who’ve supported the market for years, aren’t welcome any more in favour of new unidentified ones.

  14. You all need to take a leaf out of Deal Town Council book about a successful, safe and varied Saturday market. Worth a visit, speak to Deal and good ideas may come of it.

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