Petitions presented under Council Procedure Rule 12.0
An e-petition and paper petition in the following terms has been received. At the time of agenda publication the petitions contained 105 signatures from Watford residents.
We the undersigned petition the council to: The brand new Watford Market has a 1st floor food court which brings existing and new traders to provide a wide range of excellent food. The first floor food court has a designated public seating area which is located next to the Exchange road flyover. As the food court public seating area only has a roof but has no side panel/walls to shield the visiting public from the wind/rain/low temperature, we petition the council to provide additional heating/side panels in the public seating area.
An e-petition and paper petition, containing 105 signatures from Watford residents, had been received in the following terms
“We the undersigned petition the council to: The brand new Watford Market has a 1st floor food court which brings existing and new traders to provide a wide range of excellent food. The first floor food court has a designated public seating area which is located next to the Exchange road flyover. As the food court public seating area only has a roof but has no side panel/walls to shield the visiting public from the wind/rain/low temperature, we petition the council to provide additional heating/side panels in the public seating area.”
Mr Jason Lee of Mandarin Kitchen was invited to present the petition to Council.
Mr Lee stated that he was attending as a trader in the new market and as a Watford resident. The petition was regarding the condition of the first floor food hall in the new Watford Market. He referred to the potential of the food hall; it being a vibrant place enjoyed by families, the young and old. However this was not the case because of its location and the design of the building. It was liable to the weather, noise and fumes from the traffic on the Exchange Road flyover, which was experienced by visitors and traders, particularly the designated seating area in the food court. For example today it had been very cold and miserable. This situation had contributed to the loss of business. The people of Watford had lost a vibrant market which many had cherished.
Mr Lee said that one trader, who had been in the market for a very long time had described the building as not ‘fit for purpose’ and had left. Many of the traders who moved from the old building felt let down by the initial artist’s impression of the new building, which appeared to be fully covered and not just with the current roof. The issue of side panels had been raised in previous communication from the Council, before the current building had been completed. Through discussion with various traders and customers there was a clear opinion of the issues. There was not a consensus how to shield people from the weather and noises in the food court.
Mr Lee referred to the petition and the speed in which he had gathered enough signatures to raise it at Council. Many people felt the Council had not done enough to address the current issue. There had recently been dialogue but no plan. He said that a clear action plan was needed which had scheduled deliverables, not just talk.
In conclusion Mr Lee questioned whether the current market was a work in progress or a broken promise. He petitioned the Council to show leadership to right what was wrong and heed the cry for help from the public; to help build a lasting legacy that contributed towards a sustainable economic growth for Watford and its people; making the food hall a place where people would be proud to visit and work.
Members were then invited to discuss the petition. Members thanked Mr Lee for presenting the petition. They commented on the current design of the first floor of the market and the decision making process leading up to its relocation.
The Chairman invited the Mayor to respond.
The Mayor informed Mr Lee that the market was a work in progress. She referred to the Labour Group’s involvement in the development plans and Members’ comments at the meeting, including possible solutions for the first floor. She said that contrary to comments made by some, the old market was a failure which had also been said by traders and members of the public. The new market would divide opinion. She commented that if she had one criticism it would be that the management company had not been strong enough about the offer they wanted to provide in the market; consideration should have been given to the location of certain stalls. The Council would need to address the issues within the time, money and resources it could afford and the capacity within the Council. She said that the matter was being taken seriously and being progressed.