Council supports traders after RAAC forces closure of indoor market
Posted on: Thursday 28 September 2023
The Bridgend Indoor Market at the Rhiw Shopping Centre in Bridgend town centre remains closed in the interests of public safety due to a potential issue involving the use of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) within the structure’s roof.
Only the indoor market has been confirmed as being affected by the temporary closure, and the adjacent Rhiw Shopping Centre currently remains open for business as usual.
A total of 17 stall holders have been affected by the closure, which was deemed necessary following an inspection by a Welsh Government-approved specialist under new national guidance from the UK Government. Traders have been kept fully informed throughout the process, and a series of face-to-face meetings have been held to offer them direct advice tailored to each specific business.
Immediately after the decision to temporarily close the indoor market was taken, the council ensured that traders could access alternative storage facilities, including an industrial fridge and freezer, and that physical support was available to help them safely itemise and relocate their existing stock.
With contact officers assigned to interact directly with traders and keep them fully appraised, the council is looking at what financial support may be available as a result of the unavoidable temporary closure of the indoor market.
In addition, the council has taken steps to cancel and where necessary refund rental payments on the affected stalls, and has arranged for 100 per cent exemptions on non-domestic business rates to be applied with immediate effect. Any payments that traders may have already made will be returned.
Bridgend County Borough Council is also working alongside the management of the Rhiw Shopping Centre and town centre landlords to identify vacant units that may be suitable for stallholders to relocate into so that they can continue to trade.
This will enable the council to focus upon completing further work at the indoor market and carrying out detailed inspections to establish the extent of the RAAC issue, understand exactly what remedial measures may be required, and determine what the likely timescale for this will be.
Bridgend County Borough Council cannot and will not compromise where public safety is concerned, and we took swift action as soon as the approved specialist confirmed that there could be a potential issue associated with the use of RAAC within the indoor market’s roof. At the same time, we are doing all that we can to support traders who have been affected by this unfortunate development, and to enable their businesses to re-open in the town centre as soon as possible.
Our approach recognises that some traders may have very specific requirements depending upon the nature of their business and stock, so we are taking this into consideration and are offering additional support and bespoke guidance from the likes of our Business Support specialists and the Shared Regulatory Service’s food safety, trading standards and environmental health teams.
We are also grateful to partner organisations such as Business Wales, the Department of Works and Pensions and Citizen’s Advice for their practical support, and to the Assisted Recovery in the Community service who are offering mental health and wellbeing support for anyone who has been affected by these events. The council continues to recognise the difficulties and potential hardship that this temporary closure will cause to traders, and are making every effort to keep inconvenience to an absolute minimum. We have also committed towards providing further updates, so watch out for more news soon.Council Leader Huw David
This is obviously a very difficult time, but the council have done their best in what is a very awkward situation.
The council’s employability and economic teams have met with us to make sure that we are aware of all options, and I know that everyone is trying really hard to put a plan in place as quickly as possible which meets the needs of all individual businesses.Hayley Davies, who runs Tilly’s Rawsome Pet Food at Bridgend Indoor Market