We’re in full support of the city’s Charter Market here at St Albans Liberal Democrats – and both we and the district council continue to take the necessary steps to ensure its survival for future generations.
So here are just a few of the things we’ve been doing to ensure the future success of St Albans Charter Market...
- The Liberal Democrat-led district council protected the Charter Market throughout the pandemic, enabling residents to access a COVID-compliant market to continue without interruption*
- The district council ran a full public consultation which was advertised on social media, via press release and on the council website, the results of which can be found here.
- The Liberal Democrat administration has already turned the market around from being a loss-making enterprise subsidised from public funds under the previous Conservative administration, to being an enterprise that breaks even with a record list of new stall-holders waiting to join.
- The Liberal Democrat administration is committed to protecting the future of the Charter Market and has formed a cross-party working group to ensure there is the broadest possible support for the plans to put the market on a firm financial footing.
Unfortunately, over the past few months, there’s been a flurry of misinformation surrounding the future of the Charter Market – and we’re sad to say that some of it’s been politically driven. Let’s put the record straight:
Talking to traders
Without the traders, quite simply there would be no market. That’s why we take their views and opinions seriously – and put their interests at the heart of our plans for the future.
Getting the public’s views
There were 738 responses to a month-long public consultation asking for people’s views on the use of gazebos. Within these, a further 326 respondents made use of the option to add further views in the comment section, of which 81 were explicitly in favour of gazebos and a further 19 were in favour of gazebos but with certain qualifications. A further 155 made neutral comments.
The Conservatives, according to a recent Herts Ad article, say that these figures can be interpreted differently. However, you can see the raw data here – and judge for yourself.
Coping with Conservative mismanagement
The Charter Market’s finances were already in a sorry state when Lib Dems began leading the council in 2019. It was after the Tories unveiled their five-year plan for the market in 2015 that the deficit started to snowball out of control.
Our administration inherited this financial fiasco – and then, not long after, the pandemic hit, making a perfect storm that threatened the future of the market.
But despite all these obstacles, St Albans Lib Dems, the council and councillor Mandy McNeil worked hard to keep the Charter Market open and viable during the pandemic.
And that hard work paid off – the market remained open in a viable, COVID-secure manner, and was nominated for a prestigious Great British Food Awardin both 2020 and 2021.
Looking to the future
Sometimes when people feel passionately about an issue, it’s easy for lots of opinions to be voiced, for a vocal minority to be heard, and for facts to get turned around. We think it’s great that so many people feel so strongly about the market.
But one thing we can all agree on is that the Charter Market is a jewel in the crown of St Albans.
We want it to remain that way.
Rest assured, Liberal Democrats will continue to support the traders, as well as the BID, and to champion the success of our fantastic St Albans Charter Market.
*Aside from one occasion due to exceptionally high winds – the market has always had to be closed under adverse weather conditions, even pre-pandemic.