Agenda item



The Director of Law and Governance submitted a report requesting that Members of this Committee approve a Market Rights Policy.


The Licensing Manager advised that a draft Market Rights Policy was attached as appendix 1 to the report. 


It was reported that Wirral Council has the right to operate a market by virtue of The Birkenhead Improvement Act 1833, The Market and Fairs Clauses Act 1847 and The Birkenhead Corporation Act 1881.


The Licensing Manager informed Members that there was no statutory requirement to enforce the Council’s Market Rights, however by adopting a clear policy the Council would have a clear audit trail should its discretion be exercised and advised that the adoption of a Market Rights Policy provided a framework which had a number of benefits including the protection of traders operating in Birkenhead Market, an opportunity for relevant stakeholders including Ward Councillors to provide input into applications for markets to be held in the borough, the ability to regulate markets through conditions attached to the Market Rights Licence and the ability for the Council to be compensated for the use of its Market Rights.


The Licensing Manager reported that the draft Policy went out to consultation between 28 September 2021 and 22 December 2021 and had been published on the Council website and circulated directly to officer representatives of the Local Planning Team, Environmental Health, Asset Management, Highways, Culture Team, Regeneration, the Manager of Birkenhead Market and to known market operators. 


Feedback had been received from 56 individuals/organisations in response to the consultation.  A summary of comments and responses received had been attached as appendices to the report.  The issues raised in the responses received related to concerns about the impact of the policy on charitable organisations wishing to operate markets, the costs associated with having to obtain a licence and concern that applying the Council’s exclusive right to hold a market would restrict the ability of community groups to hold markets and have a detrimental impact on the economy of Wirral. The draft Policy had been amended in response to the concerns raised to clarify those circumstances where a Markets Rights Licence would not be required.


Members were advised that following consultation in respect of temporary market applications, should no objections be received and there are no material considerations, the policy would allow Licensing Officers to issue a Market Rights Licence subject to conditions. However, should objections be received or there are material considerations, the officer shall prepare

a report outlining the comments of stakeholders and any material considerations and the application would be referred to the Regulatory Panel.  The decision whether to grant a Market Rights Licence shall be entirely at the discretion of the Regulatory Panel.


Members were also advised that following consultation in respect of permanent market applications, Licencing Officers would refer all applications to the Regulatory Panel for determination. The decision whether to grant a Market Rights Licence shall be entirely at the discretion of the Regulatory Panel.


Mr Steve Niblock, Chair of Wirral Farmers Market addressed the Committee.  He challenged the information provided within the report in respect of the common law which determined that the exclusive rights should apply to a radius distance of 6 and 2 thirds of a mile from Birkenhead Market.  He believed that the Policy would prevent other markets from operating and queried the charges that would apply.


The Licensing Manager confirmed that any fees that would apply in respect of a Market Rights Licence would be subject of a report to a future meeting of this Committee.


In response to the concerns raised in respect of fees, the Chair advised that the intention of implementing the Policy would not be to penalise small charities or markets but to provide protection, also that no fees had yet been agreed and would be discussed in public.


Mr John Jones, addressed the Committee and advised that small markets have a role to play, and benefit local communities in generating the local economy He advised that he believed they have no impact on Birkenhead Market.


Members’ responses to the issues raised echoed the concerns in respect of large fees and the wider impact of fees paid for the use of premises for markets. The Chair advised that he acknowledged the concerns raised but considered that a policy was needed to provide a grasp on events taking place in the Borough.


The Licensing Manager referred to the purpose of the report which was a request to approve the Policy which had been amended in response to concerns raised following the consultation.


Members discussed the criteria within the Policy and were advised that having heard the concerns raised the criteria could be further amended by the Committee.


Mr Sam Johnson, Heswall Farmers Market, addressed the Committee and advised that the fee for hiring Heswall Hall was currently £155 but this would likely increase and that these premises could only accommodate 20 stalls.




(1)  That the draft Market Rights Policy be approved subject to the following amendments to paragraph 2.3 in respect of when a Markets Rights Licence will not be required:


  • Operates for no more than 2 consecutive days a year at any one time,
  • Occurs no more than 12 times a year at the same location
  • Has no more than 30 stalls, and
  • Has no significant impact on the trading activities of Birkenhead Market.


(2)  That the Policy be kept under review and a further report in respect of fees be brought back to a future meeting of this Committee.





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