No pop-up business for Helston’s fairground car park area

Following on from my objection to the proposal to invite tenders to run a concession at the Fairground car park / amenity area in Helston, I have now had confirmation that no pop-up will be placed in this area.

As I explained in my previous blog post, I understand and supported the principle of the Council looking into this on land it owns, but any award of a pop-up should not harm existing businesses in that area. Especially if the tender for that area goes to a like business, the existing business could be put at a trading disadvantage because the pop-up has limited overheads for being a temporary business.

Rent-a-pitch from Cornwall Council, but at what cost to existing businesses?

I should not have to keep saying it, but the Council has less money to deliver services due to the Government cuts, yet we still have to deliver those services. This means the Council has to look into how it can monetise some of its non-core services. If not, the simple truth is more services will come under pressure for cuts.

Readers, this is not a line, but whilst the banks were bailed out, Local Government was cut, cut and cut again. This brings me into this blogs subject.

Cornwall Council owns a lot of land, some in key locations. Up to now, these areas were not really looked at as a revenue source. Now with the budget pressures, the Council is looking at these areas to see if it can make a shilling or two.

In the first wave, 20 locations have been selected to see if a ‘pop-up’ business could operate from these locations. These are:

  • Bude Canal
  • Castle Park, Liskeard
  • Divers Car Park, Pendennis, Falmouth
  • Downderry Beach
  • Grogley Halt, Camel Trail
  • Gwithian Beach
  • Gwithian Towans
  • Harlyn Bay
  • Kit Hill
  • Longstone Park, Saltash
  • Newlyn Green
  • Penrose Amenity Area, Helston
  • Penzance Promenade
  • Poltair Park, St Austell
  • Porth Beach
  • Porth Promenade
  • Porthtowan Beach
  • Land at the Quarter Deck, Porth
  • Scarletts Well, Camel Trail, Bodmin
  • Seaton Beach
  • Seaton Valley
  • Treyarnon Bay
  • Widemouth Bay

On face value this seems a logical way forward to help protect services. The National Trust is a master of monetising its assets. So why not the Council?

However, I do have a concern that these pop-ups could impact on existing businesses in the area. Some of these businesses are leased by Cornwall Council.

As the Divisional Member for Porthleven and Helston West, one of the ‘selected’ areas falls within my Division, the Penrose Amenity Area, or more locally known as the Fairground Car Park. In this area is the much loved Coronation Park, with its boating lake, Skate Park, play area, bike hire and Café. The latter is a Cornwall Council leased Café to a private individual. This operator as part of his tenancy has exclusive rights to sell hot and cold food and drink and ice-creams. This has been a successful relationship between the Council and the past and current leaseholder. Yet, the fairground car park is just a short distance across the road and outside of the exclusive deal.

My concern, which I have raised officially, is it is all fine and good to look at offering a concession in this area, but it must be one that is not already provided by an existing deal. Or by allowing a new venture, you could be putting at risk and existing one which pays rent to the Council.

I do not know the other areas, so I am not really going to comment on them apart to say the same logic should be used as I explained previously.

Any operator like the one on Helston who suddenly sees a pop-up appear with the potential to take trade knowing this pop-up does not have the same overheads like Business Rates etc. as a fixed business. Therefore, that fixed business is at a disadvantage in trade terms. Many of these fixed businesses trade all year to take into account the good, bad and nightmare periods. A pop-up will just be there for the good-times.

As I said, I get the rationale behind this, but care and thought will be needed before any contract is issued to a pop-up.

For more details on the application process, tender period and other information, click on the link HERE. Let’s hope we do not end up robbing Peter to pay Paul.