Bridgend County Borough Council has provided an update on its latest efforts to support traders following the temporary closure of Bridgend Indoor Market.
The market was recently forced to close its doors in the interests of public safety after an inspection by a Welsh Government approved specialist confirmed that there was a potential issue with Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in parts of the market hall roof.
The council provided alternative storage facilities, including an industrial fridge and freezer, and stall holders received immediate support with itemising and relocating their existing stock. The council also cancelled rental payments on the affected stalls and set up 100 per cent business rate exemptions on the affected stalls.
Since then, the council has been working alongside partners such as the Rhiw Shopping Centre, the Shared Regulatory Service’s food safety, trading standards and environmental health teams, Business Wales, the Department of Works and Pensions and Citizen’s Advice in order to provide traders with additional support and bespoke guidance.
In partnership with the owners of the Rhiw Shopping centre, work is underway to lease up to three vacant units in order to provide temporary accommodation for any indoor market trader who requires it. This will seek to provide alternative premises for food retailers while enabling non-food related businesses to share a larger space.
At the same time, the council is supporting traders who may wish to locate to alternative premises outside of the Rhiw Shopping Centre, and is advising them about available grants and funding.
The Rhiw Shopping Centre has also agreed that every Friday, the market traders can erect pop-up stalls using the space outside the market entrance to promote their temporary relocation.
Indoor market trader Eileen Schofield, who runs the Cookmate stall, said: “We are in full contact with the council and they are helping us transfer our businesses into empty units within the Rhiw centre, obviously this is going to take some time to complete.
“In the interim, some of the stalls are holding a weekly market on Friday within the Rhiw, which gives us a chance to assure the public that we are still able to trade. The council has been extremely helpful and are giving us all the assistance they can in these difficult circumstances.”
For further information, please visit the Rhiw Shopping Centre website.
Council Leader Huw David said: “We are continuing to do all that we can to support market stallholders who have been affected by this unfortunate development, and to ensure that they are back up and trading as quickly as possible, especially we approach the Christmas shopping season.
“In addition to the support that we have provided so far, we have also commissioned further specialist survey work to establish the extent of the RAAC problem, and to determine whether affected areas can be repaired or need replacing entirely.
“This has confirmed that the issues with the aerated concrete has affected concrete panels which form part of the support system for the roof, and not to the roof itself where work was recently undertaken to improve ventilation and natural light within the market hall.
“A great deal of additional investment has taken place at Bridgend Indoor Market in recent years which has included the installation of public toilets, new air conditioning, the creation of a central square for specialist events, a refurbished design to make the market more attractive to shoppers and more.
“Despite this and the difficulties that the temporary closure poses, we clearly cannot take risks with public safety. Instead, we will continue to do all that we can to support traders, and to ensure that the indoor market can reopen again as soon as it is safe to do so.”