Agenda item

Public Question Time

Questions are invited from members of the public about the work of the Cabinet.


Notice of any question must be given to Democratic Services by midday on Monday, 12 February 2024. Approximately 30 minutes will be set aside for Public Question Time, if required.


The following question was submitted in advance of the meeting by a member of the public, Karen Simpson:


Further to my question posed in the last Council Meeting regarding the clause in the lease that states we are entitled to Quiet Enjoyment – which to date has not been answered as Charlotte Morris said she needed to ‘gen up’ on the terminology as she was not familiar with it, and I haven't heard anything since.

Would you now agree that you have indeed broken the terms of the lease in light of the findings that there has been a known fault with the Market Hall roof, since 1984? And that a special coating had to be applied every 5 years, yet no evidence can be found of this being done?

For info - Quiet Enjoyment is a clause in all our leases - broadly speaking, it entitles us to conduct our businesses without interruption or interference.


Responding, Councillor Morris reported that this question focussed on whether this constituted a break in the lease, and the straight answer was no. The Quiet Enjoyment clause had been looked into, it was a standard part of leases of this nature and meant that the trader has the right to use and occupy their stall in normal circumstances. However, these were not normal circumstances; when RAAC was confirmed in October an immediate decision was needed to close the market hall and constituted special circumstances. Legal advice had been sought and this was the Council’s position.


Councillor Morris advised that the Council was continuing to do all it could to support people. This had been a very difficult situation for everybody; it had been a difficult but necessary decision by the Council and we want to do our best by the traders. More clarity on the long-term picture was expected in the coming weeks, with final results of testing awaited, at which point timescales for reopening will be understood and communicated. 


A further supplementary question was submitted:


So, to clarify you are saying that even though it’s come to light that this issue has been known by the Council as a body since 1984, you are not responsible for what’s happening now?


Councillor Eamonn O’Brien responded that no, this was not what the Council was saying about the issue of the roof. Most roofs will require regular maintenance but the Council were not aware that RAAC was used in the construction of the Market Hall until this was confirmed on Thursday 26 October 2023 following the outcome of a survey conducted by external specialist building surveyors.


Ms Simpson added that a fault in the roof was identified in 1984 and a special costing should have been applied every 5 years (and was not done so).


Councillor O’Brien advised that the position of the Council was that they don’t accept this was the case without further research into the context and confirming the details involved. If there was a fault in 1984, that may be entirely separate from the problems faced today and more clarification was needed.


Councillor Morris added that she understood and appreciated frustrations, but the Council didn’t know RAAC was present until October last year and couldn’t change the situation now. More research would be done into the 1984 issue but it didn’t change the position we were in now in relation to RAAC and this closure.



The following question was submitted at the meeting by a member of the public, Gary Simpson:


It is now mid-February, the time Council officials said we would be fully debriefed on the findings of the various investigations taking place on the market roof. No meeting has been called to relay this information – where are the results?


Responding, Councillor Morris reported that we had received the main condition survey part done but there were final details that needed to come through with regards to testing of the materials. This had to be done in a laboratory by a third party and the Council had no control over their timescales, which were longer than initially quoted. Once that work was complete a full briefing would take place.



The following question was submitted at the meeting by a member of the public, Steve Maloney:


1979 was the last time the Bury Market roof was coated; in 1984 it came to a Council meeting that they didn’t have funds available (£10,000) and was to be considered at the following meeting which we do not have records for. As far as I’m aware, the maintenance in place was to be recoated every 5 years. In light of the findings that the fault with the roof was established in 1984 and last treated in 1979, the fact that no evidence has been found that the RAAC was either or checked treated in the intervening years, would you agree that you have failed in your duty of care to both the traders and the public and, as such, a clear case of negligence can be established?


Responding, Councillor Morris reported that there was obviously a lot of historic details coming to light about what did or didn’t happen in the maintenance of the roof, and it was important for us to understand that. She advised that, to her understanding, the current position was that even if all the maintenance had been carried out, the simple presence of RAAC would still have required the closure of the Market Hall. Councillor Morris advised that she appreciated the need to get the facts right on historic records, but the presence of RAAC made it hazardous and dangerous.


With regards to whether RAAC would be dangerous if coated, Councillor O’Brien advised that it was something that would be clarified through the ongoing investigations. He asked traders to continue sharing information with officers and with Councillors, and reiterated that information would be shared as soon as it was available.