THE CONTRACT to operate Stratford’s street markets will be going out for tender.
Geraud UK – in partnership with Stratford Town Council and Stratford District Council – currently run markets in Rother Street on Friday and Saturday and a Sunday market on Waterside. There is also an option to hold further markets in Henley Street.
But with Geraud UK’s five-year deal set to end next September, and the district council required to give 12 months’ notice if a contract is not going to be extended, a decision on the future of the town’s markets needed to be made.
At a meeting of the authority’s Cabinet this week, councillors were asked to choose between extending Geraud UK’s existing arrangement for a further five years or initiating a re-tendering process – meaning the operation of the markets could be opened up to other would-be contractors.
And following a lengthy debate, members voted in favour of offering the markets contract out to tender as well as agreeing a three day Christmas festival as part of the new contract.
During the meeting, questions were raised over the number of fast food outlets at the existing markets, which Coun Stephen Gray said was having a negative impact on nearby businesses, but other councillors maintained the situation had improved in recent months.
Coun Lynda Organ also suggested the Sunday Waterside market, which takes place for 43 days each year, should revert back to just 28 days to allow the area to be used for other community activities.
Having voted in favour of re-tendering the contract, members were expected to agree the specific details, which would be used to choose a new contractor.
These were based on a number of factors – including value for money and the quality of the offer – but the exact details are yet to be finalised after councillors opted to defer a decision on the issue.
Geraud UK won the tender to manage the council’s portfolio of the historic Rother Market as well as Farmers, Craft, Christmas and other speciality markets back in late 2012. They currently run more than 1,200 markets each week in the UK and Europe through contracts with local authorities.
But at a meeting of the Stratford Markets forum held in August, it was revealed the company was planning to redesign some of its layouts in a bid to give the markets in Stratford a new feel.
And although their current contract is set to be terminated as of September 2017, it is not necessarily the end for Geraud UK in the town as they will eligible to apply for the newly-retendered contract alongside other bidders.
The council will be looking to receive expressions of interest towards the end of the year and it is anticipated the new contract would be awarded by the end of March to allow for it to come into effect as of October 2017.