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Questions raised over new Portadown Market and if it was ‘truly representing value for money’

Magowan car park, Portadown

A Lagan River councillor will be watching the development of Portadown’s new town market “carefully” to ensure it delivers the value for money councillors were told it would.

Speaking at a meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s economic development and regeneration committee, Councillor Kyle Savage made his comments in relation to a report providing members with an overview of the borough’s market provision.

The report sets out the definitions of a local market and a farmers market and explains Council currently manages four local markets: The Shambles Variety Market in Armagh; Market Square market in Armagh; Lurgan Market and the Saturday flower market on Rathfriland Street in Banbridge.

These markets operate on public land and are licensed by the Council, councillors were advised a tender for the operation of the Portadown market is part of a procurement process.

Earlier this year, Council decided to bring its service level agreement with the market’s former operator, Portadown 2000, to an end on March 31.

This decision prompted Council to seek alternative arrangements for the future management of the town’s market. Prior to March 31, the market was operated and managed by Portadown 2000 within its premises on William Street.

Commenting on the proposal for the Council managed Portadown market, UUP councillor Kyle Savage reminded the committee this was presented to councillors as a way for Council to save money.

“A true costing of this will need to be considered and that will have to include the cost of the car parking spaces that will be taken out of circulation, we need a full costings on this,” said Cllr Savage.

“This was presented to us as a saving in Portadown, I am watching this one carefully and markets must not compete with the local business people within the town.”

His party colleague, Councillor Sam Nicholson asked about the now live tender process and questioned if it was truly representing value for money.

“The tender describes a location for the market, which is in a car park, if someone was to come forward with another location in Portadown would that be considered or would that be rejected,” asked Cllr Nicholson.

“There is a budget of £40,000 but reading the tender documents we are providing the equipment and site, I don’t see how £40,000 is value for money.

“I just wonder in comparison to the other markets if this is value for money. Similarly I know our staff sets up the Lurgan Market and I just wonder, do we have enough equipment to provide for another market.”

In response to these questions, Council’s head of economic development services, Nicola Wilson said she did not have the tender document in front of her and would provide Cllr Nicholson with the answer to this questions after the meeting.

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