The Superintendents to be heard.
The Committee heard oral updates from the Markets Superintendents on the matters set out below.
Brexit was now included in the risk register. Most produce was reaching the market during January 2021, there were 6,688 goods vehicles making deliveries. There were reported delays for flowers and plants deliveries from the EU but on the whole traders were not experiencing significant disruption. There was a risk of more disruption in April 2021 when additional inspections and extra forms might be required for some plant imports and when the full impact of the new import regulations was known from July 2021.
Trade in the market pavilion was approximately 10 - 15% below usual levels for this time of year but a busy trading period leading up to Easter was anticipated. Two market pavilion leases were assigned and completed in February 2021 and two further pavilion leases, one CSB unit and one café assignment were pending. Unfortunately, catering businesses had lost about 90% of trade resulting in several company failures.
COVID-19 – Environmental Health Officers from the London Borough of Waltham Forest (LBWF) had made several visits to monitor COVID-19 compliance and following inspections on 12.2.2021, there were eight stand closures. Stands were subsequently reopened when COVID-19 risk assessments were produced/signed off. Face covering and social distance compliance had increased to about 90% with full compliance from all traders and their staff. Providing information to customers and refusal by some traders to serve customers not wearing a face covering had increased customer compliance.
The Spitalfields Market Tenants Association (SpMTA) had issued 5,000 promotional face coverings to traders and the LBWF had also issued 500 face coverings. CoL and LBWF Officers were working with traders to ensure risk assessments were completed to a required standard and ensure compliance with control measures identified within these risk assessments.
Covid Trade Impact - Trade had declined
by up to 50% among some businesses and there had been corresponding
reductions in waste and incineration volumes. Traders had indicated
that the current trading period was the worst they had experienced
and there has also been further staff redundancies and staff
furloughs since the New Year.
The impact of COVID-19 varied from trader to trader and some suppliers were seeking payment in advance of product delivery or reducing credit terms. Many debts to traders from the first quarter of 2020 remained outstanding, adding to the significant cash flow challenges for traders.
Glass Canopy & Building Safety Inspections - Health and Safety repairs to the south west glass canopy had been completed and the gates and bays were now fully re-opened. There had been good collaborative work between Officers, the City Surveyor and principal contractor to minimise the impact on traders and full building inspections were taking place throughout March 2021 which would inform maintenance plans. Any critical Health and Safety works identified in the inspections would be prioritised and added to the next phase of East Poultry Avenue and glass canopy works.
Trade – the impact of COVID-19 varied among traders but traders had indicated a substantial reduction in trade compared to the period prior to restrictions first being imposed in March 2020. Traders serving the hospitality, restaurant and hotel sector were experiencing significant reductions in business.
Brexit – the impact of Brexit on traders ranged from negligible to moderate but overall, there appeared to be no significant impact on market operations.
NABMA commendation – The National Association of British Market Authorities highly commended Billingsgate Market for its submission to the National Association of British Market Authorities Innovation of the Year award by collaborating with MIND to create a break out area where all users of the market could access literature and pathways to support their Mental Health needs.
RESOLVED – That the updates be noted.