STROUD farmers’ market operator Gerb Gerbrands has shared his delight following the news that his licence to run the award-winning market has been extended for three years.
Members of Stroud District Council’s strategy and resources committee voted last night, Thursday, to renew the license with the current operators for a further three years.
Speaking today, Friday, Mr Gerbrands told the SNJ: “I’m obviously delighted and really pleased that I got such a large majority of the vote.
“It has been an incredibly stressful time. I was in danger of losing what is a large part of my business.
“One of the things I found most difficult was throughout the process I was referred to as just the operator and never asked to come and speak about the market and the running of it with the council.”
Mr Gerbrands began running the market, with his then wife Clare, nearly 15 years ago, under their company Made In Stroud Ltd. There was a public outcry in December when the district council revealed plans to invite new bidders to run the market in Cornhill.
Therefore the council launched a public consultation in February after 2,000 members of the public signed a petition against the move.
“The level of support has been unbelievable and I would like to thank all the members of the public and stallholders who helped drum up all the customer support.”
At the meeting last night councillors considered three options which included renewing the licence with Made in Stroud for three years, putting the contract out to tender or for the district council to take over the running of the market itself.
Cllr Simon Pickering (Green, Slade) proposed that the committee resolves to delegate authority to the Head of Asset Management to renew the licence to Made in Stroud Ltd to operate a weekly farmers’ market, and monthly flea market, at Cornhill Market Square and adjacent streets for a further three years.
However the proposal is subject to a number of conditions including that the operator provides its accounts for the market for the last three years by the end of July.
The agreement is also subject to a new licence fee, the agreement and implementation of a complaints and appeals procedure for settling disputes at the market to include Stroud District Council and stallholders representatives, the development of a business continuity plan and also that members of the strategy and resources committee be consulted on any terms which cannot be agreed.
It was also agreed that the head of asset management explores alternative models of operating the market in order for the Council to consider how it wishes the market to be operated in the future.
Some stallholders have spoke out against the three year time limit, however Mr Gerbrands has said that the time limit is normal.
After the meeting Cllr Pickering added: “This must be great relief to stall holders and Stroud town centre shop keepers. We urge council officers and Made in Stroud to come to a swift agreement on the licence so as to allow the traders, Made in Stroud and the council to continue to build on the success of Stroud farmers’ market.”
Stroud Town Mayor Amanda Moriarty and district councillor Caroline Molloy (Green, Central) also shared their delight with the decision.