The Superintendents to be heard.
The Committee heard oral updates from the Markets Superintendents on the matters set out below.
Trade - Trade was generally returning with a more noticeable increase in activity since the last government easement of Covid controls on 17th May 2021. Wholesale trade had increased significantly but retail trade was quieter. Traders were hopeful that in the coming weeks and months, trade would return to similar pre-pandemic trade levels. The Lord Mayor would be visiting the market on 10th June 2021 and local businesses were also re-opening but were noticeably less busy due to the reduced footfall of office workers.
COVID-19 – COVID-19 risks were being managed appropriately and the Market had opened a Public Health approved Lateral Flow Test facility for all Corporation staff, approved by Hackney Public Health. Free lateral flow test kits were also available for all Market staff upon request.
HGV Audit –Following the audit on 21st March 2021 which identified 13% non-compliance, an improvement audit was carried out on 3rd May which indicated 8% non-compliance. The importance of full compliance had been re-iterated and letters had been sent to traders reminding them of their obligations to perform safe HGV tenant banksman controlled deliveries.
In response to questions from Members, Officers reported that Climate Change considerations were reflected in the Departmental Business Plan.
- Traders were being encouraged to take regular
Lateral Flow Tests and home testing kits were being distributed
among traders and their staff. Public
Health guidance was being followed in respect of social distancing,
face coverings, limiting numbers on the market floor, enhanced
cleaning procedures and provision of PPE for staff. The market was
also hosting a COVID-19 Mobile testing Unit 3-4 days per week on
behalf of Tower Hamlets Council.
- Tenants had generally reported a slight increase
in trade as lockdown restrictions gradually eased and it appeared
that Brexit had not significantly impacted trade.
- The site remained popular with filming companies
and requests were being accommodated wherever possible. Officers
were cautiously optimistic that this will generate beyond
expectations in 2021/22.
Service Charges -Regrettably there was an under recovery of 0.85% of the service charge budget or £20,362.12 at Billingsgate in 2020/21. This was due to the significant impact of COVID-19 on trade and reduced car parking income owing to less vehicles entering the site. There was a shortfall of car park income of £38,656 for 2020/21.
Trade – Vehicle numbers for April 2021 were down 30% compared to the same period in 2020 but there had been a gradual month on month increase during 2021 thus far. Vehicle numbers had increased by 15% between March and April 2021 and a further increase was expected following further easing of restriction on 17th May 2021. Catering trade had increased to 30% of pre pandemic levels and cafes were now able to offer indoor dining.
Brexit – There was no significant impact in April 2021 due to deferred customs declarations for up to 6 months and most import checks had been pushed back to January 2022.
COVID-19 – All Public Health and Government guidance was being followed and CoL staff, on-site waste contractors and tenants and their staff had been issued with lateral flow test kits.
Air Quality– subject to confirmation from the Spitalfields Markets Tenants Association (SpMTA), new regulations were being implemented for the use of electric forklifts within the market pavilion only. These new regulations would be implemented over a 3-year period to December 2024 by which time all tenants must use electric forklifts in preparation for the move to the new site at Dagenham Dock.
Pedestrian gate and turnstile - The gate and turnstile had been in operation since 11th May 2021. Initial teething issues had been addressed and the system was fully operational supporting security and safety on the site.
In response to questions from Members, Officers reported that the Climate Strategy targets were being actively supported and the market had zero landfill waste.
RESOLVED – That the updates be noted.