LEYTON: 5,000 call for Olympic market traders to be refunded

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Most traders abandoned their stalls at the market after just a few days. Pictured during the Olympics. Most traders abandoned their stalls at the market after just a few days. Pictured during the Olympics.

AN ONLINE petition demanding refunds for traders at a "disastrous" Olympic food market has attracted nearly 5,000 signatures.

The council created the temporary 'Olympia Market' in Marshall Road, near the Leyton Asda car park, in the expectation that thousands of visitors travelling to the Games from Leyton Tube station would walk past.

Stallholders, who were sold the pitches at prices of up to £16,200 for 45 days, were given estimates of 40,000 visitors on peak days - but were dismayed when hardly anyone turned up.

The petition, set up by trader Donna Thomas who claims she lost more than £27,000, calls on the council and its partners to give traders their money back.

It had been signed by 4,960 people at the time of writing.

Both the council and its contractors Skateco blame each other for the market's failure.

Each side says the location and promotion of the market was the other's responsibility.

In a statement sent to the Guardian two days before the market opened, the council described the market in "the heart of Leyton" as a partnership between the authority and Skateco.

Many of the traders and the contractors are considering legal action.

It has emerged that Skateco was the only firm to bid for the contract as part of a group which also included not-for-profit agencies North London Business (NLB) and E11 BID.

The head of NLB and company secretary of Skateco, Gary Ince, resigned from NLB following the market's "apparent failure", according to a statement from the organisation.

Traders have criticised the lack of promotion, including council leaflets welcoming Olympic visitors to the borough which advised pedestrians to walk a different route through Leyton to the Olympic Park, bypassing the market.

A council spokeswoman said: "NLB and their partners Skateco are solely responsible for the success of their market.

"The council strongly denies making any misleading statements to NLB or Skateco.

"NLB and Skateco won the ability to locate, organise, manage and run the event, receiving their income through their contracts with stall holders.

"The council has paid nor received any monies from these organisations

"Publically available information from LOCOG and Transport for London was provided.

"Visitor numbers have been lower than expected across the capital and we are of course disappointed that this has had a negative impact on businesses within the borough."

Brian Jokat, director of Skateco, said in an earlier statement that the council had "let down" traders and his firm.

He said: "The council had told us and other local businesses that in excess of 30,000 people could realistically be expected on some Games days.

"We were told that there would be a regular flow of visitors to the Olympic Park from nearby Leyton Underground station and that people would be drawn to the market by local signage and council-produced leaflets.

“All of this would have generated significant passing trade for the market and its stalls but, sadly, none of it has been delivered in reality."

The petition can be viewed here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/north-london-business-refund-leyton-olympia-food-market-traders


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Comments (10)

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12:29pm Wed 15 Aug 12

NT says...

Curiously, a fairly thorough search of the public record fails to throw up any information as to when the organisers of this market obtained the relevant statutory permissions.

It is also relevant that WF News issue 71, 30 July 2012, p.7 has an article on the market which states:

'Waltham Forest Council created the market to help local businesses capitalise on the extra visitors that will be flocking to the borough during the Games'.

'Created'!

The **** crows thrice!
Curiously, a fairly thorough search of the public record fails to throw up any information as to when the organisers of this market obtained the relevant statutory permissions. It is also relevant that WF News issue 71, 30 July 2012, p.7 has an article on the market which states: 'Waltham Forest Council created the market to help local businesses capitalise on the extra visitors that will be flocking to the borough during the Games'. 'Created'! The **** crows thrice! NT

1:47pm Wed 15 Aug 12

Techno3 says...

The public has been given a mere glimpse of the corrupt world of ignorant local authority blundering about in trade and commerce; of contracts and bidding processes stitched up among political cronies and friends (outsiders need not apply) who have nothing other than 'who they know' in the Laboru Party to recommend their involvement in the schemes this self-serving and incompetent clique thinks up. Chris Robbins is responsible for this fiasco: he should also resign.
The public has been given a mere glimpse of the corrupt world of ignorant local authority blundering about in trade and commerce; of contracts and bidding processes stitched up among political cronies and friends (outsiders need not apply) who have nothing other than 'who they know' in the Laboru Party to recommend their involvement in the schemes this self-serving and incompetent clique thinks up. Chris Robbins is responsible for this fiasco: he should also resign. Techno3

1:55pm Wed 15 Aug 12

Cornbeefur says...

Had the stall-holders made a massive 'killing' would they have paid the council extra rent? I think this is purely a case of win some lose some. There are always risks in any business.
Had the stall-holders made a massive 'killing' would they have paid the council extra rent? I think this is purely a case of win some lose some. There are always risks in any business. Cornbeefur

2:03pm Wed 15 Aug 12

JuniorCarter says...

NT - could you get this paper to run a story with that quote in it? This Council align themselves with anything they think will get them votes! I don't know why residents keep voting and voting them in.
NT - could you get this paper to run a story with that quote in it? This Council align themselves with anything they think will get them votes! I don't know why residents keep voting and voting them in. JuniorCarter

2:28pm Wed 15 Aug 12

NT says...

There is truth in what you say, Cornbeefur - business is always risky.

However, it is a reasonable expectation, too, that statutory authorities are truthful and responsible in their pronouncements.

What exactly happened in this case
remains to be determined.

My post aimed only to highlight the stark difference between pronouncements made by the Council pre- and post-Olympics.
There is truth in what you say, Cornbeefur - business is always risky. However, it is a reasonable expectation, too, that statutory authorities are truthful and responsible in their pronouncements. What exactly happened in this case remains to be determined. My post aimed only to highlight the stark difference between pronouncements made by the Council pre- and post-Olympics. NT

4:37pm Wed 15 Aug 12

mdj says...

The LB Waltham Forest website refers to NLB as 'our partner organisation', and helps to fund it. It is impossible to disentangle the overlapping boards and shared premises of NLB, NL Strategic Partnership, and the Waltham Forest Business Board, which is prominently featured on the Council's website. All these organisations have input from Councillors of ours.
A page on the NLB website for 5 July, now taken down, says:'The purpose of the (Leyton market) project is to ensure local businesses benefit from the increased footfall of 80,000 + people per day that will flow through the Leyton area during the London Olympic Games.Leyton station has been confirmed as the closest key station to the Olympic Park, so the location of these markets is ideal in terms of the prospective trade'.
Another NLB page dated 10 July,'Olympia Markets Leyton – Close to sold out,' has also been taken down.
The website, www.olympiamarkets.c
o.uk, the information pack which itemises the contract terms the stallholders signed up to, has also been taken down.
Since all these documents are already elsewhere on the web, or exist in print, this seems a strange course of action.
An article in the Council's WF News for 27 July, following warm promotional words from Cllr Mark Rusling, says:
'To ensure the highest public safety food standards, the Primary Care Trust and Council’s environmental health food safety team worked with stall holders to address issues around food safety, waste management, licensing and recycling...'
Also:'Marshall Road is a street in the heart of Leyton. Visitors can get to the food hall from Leyton Tube Station. Waltham Forest Council created the new food market through an innovative partnership with North London Business and Skateco UK'.
There now appear to be queries whether the market received the necessary trading licence, despite the apparent swarms of Council help on this topic.
There are four Gary Inces recorded as company directors . Three of them appear to be the recent Chief Executive of NLB, though the Gary Ince listed as secretary of SkateCo makes no mention of the 20-odd other directorships of the Gary Ince at North London Business, has a different director ID No, and is 16 years younger. Perhaps a Shakespearian Comedy of Errors has been going on, and there have been two Gary Anthony Inces favouring this borough with their entrepreneurial insights. Could we really be so blessed?
Cllr Rusling, relying on assurances from Mr Fenwick, the Councils' legal director, is confident that the Council has nothing to apologise for.

One has to ask when, or even whether, the Council's due diligence process disclosed Mr Ince's varied business interests over the seven years he has been at North London Business.Wisdom gained from these has doubtless enriched the quality of any advice he may have offered the Council, and local businesses via the various BiD organisations.

One hopes that it is indeed correct that 'The council has (sic: 'neither' is presumably omitted) paid nor received any monies from.. (NLB), since this is a dormant company that has not filed accounts for several years, as Mr Fenwick and its Council 'partner' is doubtless aware . Could Mr Fenwick clarify whether the same statement is true concerning North London Ltd, which operates from the same address, with directors in common? Is he indeed aware of the existence of this company?
It's fair to ask what is the legal status of statements made by the council about its shared operations over several years with a company whose accounts claim it is not trading.
Has the Council been seeking and relying on consultancy from an official whose post it partly funds, but may not be subject to the same Code of Conduct as the officials it employs directly? If so, are we as taxpayers exposed to any legal risk as a result?

When Mr Fenwick says that "NLB and Skateco 'won' the ability to locate, organise, manage and run the event..', is he claiming that NLB had to win some form of tender? Nothing in the Council's available public statements seems to suggest this. He is aware that SkateCo, a company with no apparent history of running food markets, was the only inquirer out of nine to submit a bid: does he feel that the Council had no need to be concerned by this, since everything was now in the wise hands of NLB, with whom the Council had no connection?
Can the Council defend its position in the event of any inquiry or litigation on the basis of the professional advice of Mr Fenwick?

Amid so many uncertainties it is still likely that large amounts of the money paid in advance for a prospective 45-day tenure by the stallholders is still sitting in a bank account somewhere. Could the two officials of SkateCo, Mr Jokat and Mr Ince (Mark I or Mark II), put their minds at rest about this?
And, even accepting that we are all enjoying the holiday period, is it really impossible for any Councillor to comment?
The LB Waltham Forest website refers to NLB as 'our partner organisation', and helps to fund it. It is impossible to disentangle the overlapping boards and shared premises of NLB, NL Strategic Partnership, and the Waltham Forest Business Board, which is prominently featured on the Council's website. All these organisations have input from Councillors of ours. A page on the NLB website for 5 July, now taken down, says:'The purpose of the (Leyton market) project is to ensure local businesses benefit from the increased footfall of 80,000 + people per day that will flow through the Leyton area during the London Olympic Games.Leyton station has been confirmed as the closest key station to the Olympic Park, so the location of these markets is ideal in terms of the prospective trade'. Another NLB page dated 10 July,'Olympia Markets Leyton – Close to sold out,' has also been taken down. The website, www.olympiamarkets.c o.uk, the information pack which itemises the contract terms the stallholders signed up to, has also been taken down. Since all these documents are already elsewhere on the web, or exist in print, this seems a strange course of action. An article in the Council's WF News for 27 July, following warm promotional words from Cllr Mark Rusling, says: 'To ensure the highest public safety food standards, the Primary Care Trust and Council’s environmental health food safety team worked with stall holders to address issues around food safety, waste management, licensing and recycling...' Also:'Marshall Road is a street in the heart of Leyton. Visitors can get to the food hall from Leyton Tube Station. Waltham Forest Council created the new food market through an innovative partnership with North London Business and Skateco UK'. There now appear to be queries whether the market received the necessary trading licence, despite the apparent swarms of Council help on this topic. There are four Gary Inces recorded as company directors . Three of them appear to be the recent Chief Executive of NLB, though the Gary Ince listed as secretary of SkateCo makes no mention of the 20-odd other directorships of the Gary Ince at North London Business, has a different director ID No, and is 16 years younger. Perhaps a Shakespearian Comedy of Errors has been going on, and there have been two Gary Anthony Inces favouring this borough with their entrepreneurial insights. Could we really be so blessed? Cllr Rusling, relying on assurances from Mr Fenwick, the Councils' legal director, is confident that the Council has nothing to apologise for. One has to ask when, or even whether, the Council's due diligence process disclosed Mr Ince's varied business interests over the seven years he has been at North London Business.Wisdom gained from these has doubtless enriched the quality of any advice he may have offered the Council, and local businesses via the various BiD organisations. One hopes that it is indeed correct that 'The council has (sic: 'neither' is presumably omitted) paid nor received any monies from.. (NLB), since this is a dormant company that has not filed accounts for several years, as Mr Fenwick and its Council 'partner' is doubtless aware . Could Mr Fenwick clarify whether the same statement is true concerning North London Ltd, which operates from the same address, with directors in common? Is he indeed aware of the existence of this company? It's fair to ask what is the legal status of statements made by the council about its shared operations over several years with a company whose accounts claim it is not trading. Has the Council been seeking and relying on consultancy from an official whose post it partly funds, but may not be subject to the same Code of Conduct as the officials it employs directly? If so, are we as taxpayers exposed to any legal risk as a result? When Mr Fenwick says that "NLB and Skateco 'won' the ability to locate, organise, manage and run the event..', is he claiming that NLB had to win some form of tender? Nothing in the Council's available public statements seems to suggest this. He is aware that SkateCo, a company with no apparent history of running food markets, was the only inquirer out of nine to submit a bid: does he feel that the Council had no need to be concerned by this, since everything was now in the wise hands of NLB, with whom the Council had no connection? Can the Council defend its position in the event of any inquiry or litigation on the basis of the professional advice of Mr Fenwick? Amid so many uncertainties it is still likely that large amounts of the money paid in advance for a prospective 45-day tenure by the stallholders is still sitting in a bank account somewhere. Could the two officials of SkateCo, Mr Jokat and Mr Ince (Mark I or Mark II), put their minds at rest about this? And, even accepting that we are all enjoying the holiday period, is it really impossible for any Councillor to comment? mdj

6:40pm Wed 15 Aug 12

bishbosh says...

Is this the same Gary Ince that the chair of the planning committee invited to support the recent L and Q attempted demolition of the Stow?
Is this the same Gary Ince that the chair of the planning committee invited to support the recent L and Q attempted demolition of the Stow? bishbosh

1:36am Thu 16 Aug 12

warpdog says...

Has Private Eye 'Rotten Boroughs' been informed of this yet?
Has Private Eye 'Rotten Boroughs' been informed of this yet? warpdog

1:00pm Thu 16 Aug 12

Harry J says...

I'm wondering who these 5,000 signees are? I do feel sorry for the businesses to some extent - businesses across London were led to believe that there would be a massive Olympic effect. It didn't happen.

I think it was a result of over zealous emergency planning and their projections becoming accepted as fact re numbers of poeple, grid lcolked streets, massive camping sites etc. I went to the Victoria Park BT Zone on the last Saturday and it was very quiet and half empty. Most people made the sensible decision to stay at home and watch on TV.
I'm wondering who these 5,000 signees are? I do feel sorry for the businesses to some extent - businesses across London were led to believe that there would be a massive Olympic effect. It didn't happen. I think it was a result of over zealous emergency planning and their projections becoming accepted as fact re numbers of poeple, grid lcolked streets, massive camping sites etc. I went to the Victoria Park BT Zone on the last Saturday and it was very quiet and half empty. Most people made the sensible decision to stay at home and watch on TV. Harry J

9:25am Fri 17 Aug 12

Walthamforest1993 says...

Allow all the long paragraphs, it was a stupid idea.
Allow all the long paragraphs, it was a stupid idea. Walthamforest1993

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