A COUNCILLOR has questioned why Barnstaple Pannier Market appeared to be losing nearly £100,000 a year.
The issue was raised by North Devon Council Conservative councillor Mike Harrison. The council accounts state that in 2012/13 expenditure on the town centre site was £363,664.46 while its turnover was £264,926.85. This left a deficit of £98,737.61.
But the council has confirmed this is not the case and £94,000 of the deficit is in respect of non-cash adjustments.
These are figures which, for accounting purposes, are required to be charged to the service but are not a direct cash cost of the pannier market. They include pension valuation adjustments, bad debt provision, internal central support recharges and capital charges.
With this taken into account, there was a deficit of around £5,000.
Councillor Malcolm Prowse said at the meeting that any loss had come from the management of the pannier market.
"We need to have more joined up thinking," he added. "It is the one thing that makes Barnstaple different from any other town, but we need somebody to look at it afresh. We may have to put some money into it."
But Mr Harrison said afterwards he was not happy with that answer.
"We should be doing something," he added. "The answer I got was lame. During my time as leader I decided we could not go on paying people to come out at 4am to put the tables up. It is unsociable hours and carries a premium so we tried to shut the road because at the time you could drive through.
"Highways would not shut it but they did put a bollard in so you could not drive through it. They said no about three times because it would have a disastrous effect on businesses."
The option of putting a curtain down either side was looked into so that people could still walk through the Pannier Market but not get into it.
However, as it is a listed building it was too costly to implement.
Mr Harrison said: "I just think when we are losing £2,000 a month and we are talking about moving out of the Civic Centre to save costs, other options need to be looked at."
Council leader Brian Greenslade said claims the pannier market was losing nearly £100,000 a year were not accurate.
He said: "Barnstaple Pannier Market is a tremendous asset for the town and North Devon, encouraging customers and traders into the centre and therefore providing wider economic benefit to the area.
"It's simply not true that the market is losing £99,000 a year. In fact, £94,000 is for non-cash accounting adjustments, which means there's just a £5,000 cash difference between its direct monetary costs and the income generated in 2012/13.
"We are always looking at how we can further improve our facilities as well as save money."