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Labour apologise for Preston Market Hall tweet ahead of offer to traders

Posted on - 19th August, 2019 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News
Looking into the Market Hall building under the Covered Market Pic: Blog Preston
Looking into the Market Hall building under the Covered Market Pic: Blog Preston

Preston Labour have been forced to apologise and remove a tweet which ‘breached confidentiality’ around the future of Preston’s Market Hall.

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Councillors are due to hear two reports into the Market during Thursday’s full council meeting.

Both reports are restricted to the press and public and will be heard in private.

Blog Preston understands Preston City Council is due to confirm whether it will offer a reduction in rents to traders following an official demand by traders in May for a 50 per cent reduction in rates.

In a quote tweet sent during Saturday August 17 the official Preston Labour Twitter account, understood to be overseen by cabinet member for finance and resources councillor Martyn Rawlinson, gave details of what’s contained within the two restricted reports.

The tweet was sent on Saturday morning but deleted within a few hours Pic: Blog Preston
The tweet was sent on Saturday morning but deleted within a few hours Pic: Blog Preston

The tweet has since been deleted but when putting a screengrab of the tweet to council leader councillor Matthew Brown he apologised for it.

He told Blog Preston: “The Preston Labour Twitter and Facebook accounts are managed independently of Preston City Council. In this case there was an attempt to explain what we are considering for the market in broad terms.

“However, this has unintentionally breached confidential information and I would like to apologise on behalf of Preston Labour Group. The specific details of what Council decides will be made available on Thursday via a full press release from Preston City Council.”

Read more: Capelli Remi to leave the market as Cherry Pie undergoes refit

Mr Brown’s cabinet member councillor Martyn Rawlinson responded with: “We have breached no confidentiality. They’re our reports.”

While cabinet member for the environment, councillor Robert Boswell, who has responsibility for the Markets, said: “The two reports concerning the markets are not in the public domain and councillors should not be commentating on the contents. The Labour group has not considered the contents of the report.”

One rule for the council, another for traders

A letter to market traders ahead of the council meeting from deputy chief executive Neil Fairhurst had outlined the offer to traders, and also asked traders to keep shtum ahead of full council.

In a copy of the letter, seen by Blog Preston, it included the following statement: “These proposals must remain confidential between the council and traders until full council has reached a decision.

“A breach of this confidentially will put at risk both the proposed scheme and rent reduction.

“I would like to reiterate the point raised in relation to negative publicity in my previous letter and the detrimental effect this can have on your business, the Market and its reputation.”

Read morePreston Market Hall wins award for ‘best use of publicly owned land’

Blog Preston has seen the contents of the offer to traders but to ensure the traders are protected has decided not to reveal it.

One trader, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said: “We wrote to them back in May.

“I think the offer just isn’t good enough given how the situations in the Market has deteriorated since then.”

Read more: Slice n Shake leaves the Market after just five months

Marker Traders are due to meet on Monday August 19 to consider their position ahead of the full council meeting on Thursday August 22.

Leader of the Preston Liberal Democrat group, and joint opposition party, councillor John Potter said: “The ruling Labour group need to get their act together. Who in their team is releasing tweets regarding confidential reports about important matters that will affect people’s livelihoods?

“I’m expecting a big debate on Thursday regarding these crucial city centre matters however I am concerned as to whether the traders have been fully consulted about the options we will be voting on. Lots of councillors, like myself, regularly use the markets but the traders are the ones who know every fault and niggle in the current set up so if the council is planning a ‘take it or leave it’ approach that may only escalate the tensions.

“Everyone wants the market to thrive and the traders to be prosperous and we must all work together to end some of the negativity and bad press it’s been getting because that helps no one in the long run.”

Read more: Update on former Market Hall car park demolition

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