Legal action is being considered by Bradford Council against two unlicensed markets in the city which it believes are breaching rules designed to protect the authority’s existing markets from rival traders.
Within six months two private markets sprang up in less than a two mile radius of long-standing Council markets, such as the Oastler Shopping Centre and Kirkgate Market.
The first, which opened last August, is the Tradex Market at the former Shires Bathroom site, Beckside Road, and the second, which opened in February this year, is the Marlboro Market at the former Marlboro Cinema, Carlisle Road.
Council officers were first alerted to the Tradex one by traders at the Oastler Shopping Centre who were approached about taking a stall.
But the authority holds market franchise rights which gives the Council protection from disturbance by a rival market within six and two-thirds miles as the crow flies. In addition anyone wanting to operate a commercial market within the district would need a licence to do so from the Council.
Under the rules the Council can protect these rights by taking enforcement action against anyone breaching them, which may include obtaining an injunction at court to order a rival market operator to cease trading.
After an investigation into the Tradex and Marlboro markets, the Council is now considering going to court to obtain the necessary injunction which would close the unlicensed markets down.
Legal officers believe there is enough evidence against the operators of Marlboro Market and are taking steps to gain the injunction. They are also advising that it could also be an option to pursue a similar injunction against the Tradex Market, subject to the existence of sufficient evidence.
Colin Wolstenholme, the Council’s markets manager, said: “It is the market services view that there is clear evidence that the operation of a market is indeed taking place from these premises.”
He added of the Marlboro Market: “The market is operating contrary to the Council’s market rights as it is unlicensed, however, it does have planning permission for retail use.”
Of the Tradex Market, he said that officers had visited the market and spoken to the owner who believed he was operating “a distribution centre offering concession space to individual businesses” to compliment an existing furniture business. It runs four days a week and sells Asian clothing, jewellery and sweets, as well as general goods.
Access is restricted through a registration scheme, but officers believe this is simply “an attempt to camouflage the existence of a market”.
In addition the building does not have permission for retail use, so a planning application has been submitted and is still under consideration.
The Marlboro Market runs three days a week and also sells predominantly Asian goods, as well as some electrical appliances, toiletries and mobile phone accessories.
Officers have handed a licence application form to the owner, but this has not been completed.
Members of the Council’s regulatory and appeals committee are being asked to approve pursuing planning enforcement action where appropriate and taking out injunctions to protect the Council’s market rights, subject to a proper assessment of evidence.
Anyone wishing to operate a private market in the district must apply to Bradford Council for a commercial market licence. In addition planning permission may also be required, such as if it is intended to operate the market event for more than 14 days a year.
The meeting takes place this Thursday, at Bradford City Hall from 10am.