In late 2001 Heywood Market was under the threat of closure by Rochdale MBC as it had lost £70,000 in its last trading year. Facilitated by a friend of the Market, a Senior Bank Manager with Project management skills, the active Traders Committee came up with a number of cost saving/income generating schemes to enable the Council to continue to run the Market.
Unbeknown to the Traders a decision had been made by the Council to relinquish ownership of the Market. Accordingly, the Council decided that they would put the
management of the Market out to tender and the Traders were invited to bid in competition with others.
Heywood Township Councillors and Jim Dobbin MP had become involved in the discussions between the Traders and the Council Officers and they were
impressed at how professionally the Traders had conducted themselves. It was agreed that a Community Trust would be set up to bid for the Management of the
Market made up of Traders, Township Councillors and members of the Community. The Senior Bank Manager/Project Manager remained involved to assist with the bid and Julie Betteridge from RMBC Regeneration Unit was drafted in to provide her expertise.
The Trust was called MAGIC which stood for Market Action Group In the Community. A Business Plan was developed to illustrate how we could run the Market profitably and a redundant canteen and shops at the Market were identified as a potential as a Community,
Development and Training Suite and plans to convert them were quickly established.
The Trust applied for New Deal and ERDF funding to assist us provide this facility and this was agreed in July 2002 subject to us being successful with the Market bid. This much needed resource in Heywood was a key part of the Trust’s bid to run the Market and without it we would probably not have been successful.
The Business Plan was submitted in competition with other Market Operators. After initially losing, due to our bid not being the most monetary rewarding to RMBC,
the decision was reversed on the basis that our bid would provide the greatest benefits to Heywood and its people. Heywood MAGIC Development Trust took over the management of the Market in December 2002.
The Trust took ownership of the Market in December 2002. At that time the Market was one third empty and the areas to be converted into the community room were derelict. This was 5 months behind schedule due to RMBC not being in a position to transfer ownership as they had indicated previously. No development work could be undertaken before then as RMBC would not allow access to the proposed community room area. A Manager could not be recruited until we were sure we had finally got the Market.
Managed by Board volunteers, by March 2003 the Market was virtually full and the community/training room had been established and furnished. A Manager was
recruited by the beginning of April with a remit to develop the Community and Training Room.
In respect of the Markets aims these have all been fully achieved, current trader occupancy is approximately 90% at a time when many other markets are failing. The variety of products has varied, and its profile lifted.
The Market has established itself in the Community and events to assist Groups and residents have been held. The Trust has always been mindful of its community
responsibilities and has acted accordingly such as providing a weekly home for CAB which was recently in difficulties. Additionally, the Market has made every effort to support all local groups and charities in the town.
Many of the Traders are now long established and help and guidance has been given to them along the way as well as initial favourable rent terms to help them become
established. There have been failures, this is inevitable, but the Trust has tried hard for these people to make them successful.
Traders have been vetted carefully to prevent duplication of stalls to ensure we do not get new Traders at the expense of our existing Traders. As the Market was virtually full, planning permission was sought for outside stalls which were eventually obtained. It is these stalls we are looking to use now to help people into work. In addition the Job Centre was allocated a stall on the Market at a reduced rent and it is understood that
through this outlet they assisted 57 people back into work.
The Training facility has been very successful and has been used on a regular basis for three Hopwood Hall computer classes. Heywood and Middleton PCT,
Rochdale PCT, Real Deal, Manchester University and numerous other training organisations use the facility. The Trust itself have organised a number of Training
events aimed at New Deal Residents.
In addition, we invited all employers in Heywood to come down to the room to advise us of what training would be beneficial to give to people to make them more employable. The room has been used significantly by Community Groups and wherever it was warranted
favourable terms have been given. New Deal, Community Transport, Queen’s Park Restoration are but a few names of the Groups to use this facility.
The Trust has always made sure that the Market has traded profitably in its own right, and the Board is proud that this has been achieved. As a start up Company, the Board has to be prudent with these profits and build reserves to cover eventualities, but it is aware of its
community base and has already made a Charitable Donation of £1,000 to Fairfield Hospital Baby Care Unit which is used by Heywood residents.
John Rhodes our Market Officer has been tasked as a priority to fill the outside stalls. The launch of these was delayed due to planning permission problems and the previous Manager leaving. However, his remit was to advertise and develop these stalls. At that time we ensured that priority was given to New Deal Residents and that they received favourable terms to help them become established. An in house course was also be
offered to potential traders.
The future – We continue to try to manage our costs to try to keep our rents pegged, the Traders have not faced a rent increase during the period we have managed the
Market. The key to this has been increased occupancy and we feel that John Rhodes will develop the Market further in respect of both inside and outside stalls.
He is drawing up a programme of markets to visit to try to attract traders. Two stalls for outside have now been purchased and we look forward to the take up of these stalls. It is hoped the outside stalls will create more interest and therefore increased footfall in the market in general.
In addition the Board went into partnership with the Traders Committee and agreed to 50% of the costs of a 20,000 leaflet drop in Heywood, Bamford and Norden in an effort to increase footfall and awareness, and more recently have provided the Traders with additional marketing budget to contribute towards the cost of advertising the Market on the local radio station Revolution Radio.
So if you look back at our original aims, I don’t think we have done too badly. The Board consider the Project has been a success, a view, we assume shared by others as this has been evidenced by a Ministerial visit and visitors from other Local Authorities such as
Wolverhampton seeking our views as to how to operate a Community Trust Market – so we must be doing something right.
Whilst we are very proud of what we have achieved we recognise we could not have done this without the help of the public of Heywood and our funders. In this respect the MAGIC Board wishes to thank the public and both our funders, New Heart for Heywood and ERDF for the support they have given.
Additionally for the confidence they have had in us, as without that support this success story would not have been possible. We have facilities here second to none, it is the Boards’ continued aim to keep the Market successful and provide a Community facility for
Heywood as well as safeguard the future of our Traders.
The Market has changed and improved significantly over the last four years. It is now clean, bright and vibrant with a variety of stalls and we are asking the people of Heywood to come and have a look – we think you will like what you see. The Market is open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday – it’s your Market – it’s the Communities Market come and give us a try.
Heywood MAGIC Development Trust Ltd