Sensitively modernising Ashton’s historic 700-year-old market – Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

Ashton Market Square in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire is rich in history and holds a special place in the hearts of the community and traders alike. This considerate modernisation is being carried out by Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC).

Outlining the project, which has received  recognition for safety innovation, Environmental Services Manager Ian Evans said:

“There has been a market in Ashton for over 700 years after a royal charter to hold a market in Ashton was granted in 1284. Plans to transform the historic Market Square into a modern and vibrant area were given the go ahead in July 2014. This followed extensive consultation with traders, shoppers and residents.

“Work on the £4.5m project commenced in January 2015 to provide new stalls and kiosks, high quality paving, landscaping and trees, a performance area, seating areas as well as new street furniture and LED feature lighting. Completion is scheduled for October 2016.

One of the biggest challenges was to ensure market traders, shop keepers and the general public were kept fully up-to-date with the operational aspects of the project programme.

Prior to their commencement, the market redevelopment works were programmed around the need to maintain a fully functioning outdoor market in its existing location. Extensive consultation was undertaken with traders, businesses and the general public prior to works commencing; one option was to relocate the outdoor market in its entirety but traders disapproved of this option and clearly stated their desire to remain on the market ground throughout the period of the works.

Work has progressed in a number of phases, with areas being handed back to the market as they are completed. Close co-operation and daily communication took place throughout the works between the Market Management Officers and the council’s Design and Delivery Team.

The need to minimise disruption as much as possible has always been at the top of the agenda. Where necessary and appropriate, the order of works may have been re-sequenced to meet the operational needs of the market which remained as busy as ever during the construction phase.

You can find out how the team addressed the challenges of the project, as well as reading just a selection of  best practice examples implemented by Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, by clicking on the sliders below:

  • The compound fence was constructed from 3m high Palisade fencing with appropriate gates and the full installation had professionally prepared promotional panels depicting actual market traders, to promote the development.
  • The space between the two separate areas had a system of crash barriers to form a vestibule for the managed interface with the public. The barriers were removed every night and replaced early in the morning. Apart from the promotional material there was a good display of informative signage and notices, including a community information board.
  • The Market Ground has always been susceptible to litter from the daily traders, so a daily morning litter pick was carried out.
  • Operatives were encouraged to clean their hi-viz vests and there were daily and weekly inspections, with a register maintained.
  • The site had both a public website and an intranet site for all council employees, as well as a Twitter page. 
  • The plans for the development were made public for a number of years, with many consultations carried out with the market traders and focus groups from the commercial and retail neighbours.
  • Within the Market Hall there was a display section which was specifically geared towards the project and to convey information to the public. Weekly site activities were posted on the public notices around the perimeter of the site and the council had a Local Community Strategy to support businesses.
  • Alternative stall fees were in place for the duration of the works to show consideration and flexibility. Temporary stalls were also provided.
  • The About Tameside magazine outlined features on the development.
  • Deliveries were all fully scheduled and had to report to site from a holding area a quarter of a mile away, to enable the gates to be unlocked and the marshals in place; under no circumstances could a vehicle be stationary outside the site gates.
  • The community was given a bi-weekly update on the site progress.
  • Respect for the passing public was covered within the induction and a sheet of FAQs was available for the workforce so they could give a positive response to questions asked by the public.
  • A Customer Relations Manager was the key link with all the commercial enterprises and market traders.
  • Tameside has a CSR plan which comprised 15 basic pledges made by the Chief Executive and these were not site-specific. Site manager Ian Evans acted as the Scheme champion and was fully supported by the Directors.
  • Tameside Council purchased a multi-use machine called a ‘Multihog’. This was showcased on the Ashton Market Ground project and the local community was encouraged to take part in ‘naming the Multihog’ competition. Over 80 entries were received and the winning entry from Waterloo Primary School was from student, Haider Ali Javaid, who suggested the machine be called ‘Bumblebee’, because it is “yellow and black like a bumblebee and makes a humming sound”.
  • The site team, along with Haider’s mother and sister, attended Waterloo Primary School to present Haider with a small gift and the whole year group was invited to look around the machine. A few lucky ones were allowed inside Bumblebee.
  • Recycling of street scene furniture was extensively practiced. The palisade fence was used on a previous site and will be saved for further use after completion.
  • Works were being carried out to suit the Market Ground activities; Mondays were identified as quiet days, while Fridays were very busy days. Evening works were carried out for nine weeks to negate the impact on the public and market traders.
  • A total of 13 trees were removed from the site but these will be replaced with 35 new trees.
  • The site cabins were eco-units which had added insulation, double glazing and lighting controlled by PIRSs, as well as percussion taps in the toilets.
  • Environmental awareness training was given to employees and environment notice boards were displayed with support material and promoting eco-friendly achievements.
  • Carbon reduction was an objective for the council and all site data was captured and applied to a C02 emissions toolkit.
  • A new piece of plant machinery was trialled which negated the need to excavate the asphalt surface of the Market Ground and allowed for new finishes to be laid down; the Multihog is a scaled down version of a road planner and proved to be a great success by reducing noise, dust, eliminating HAV exposure and contributing to C02 savings.
  • The CO2 emissions tool kit used followed the Environmental Agency format.
  • There was a system of crash barriers between the compound and operational area which enabled the public to walk across the area; this was controlled by banksmen when deliveries needed to gain access.
  • A good traffic management plan was displayed and the site safety procedures and rules were conveyed to all inductees. Further promotion of safety was conducted via worker engagement, hazard identification cards, employee safety handbook and attendance at the H&S Group meetings.
  • There was also a meeting held every two weeks with the market traders to cover safety matters; emergency evacuation procedures were in place and drills were carried out.
  • The site previously utilised HAV (Hand Arm Vibration) meters to monitor individual tool exposure points. HAV technology records and logs EAV and ELV levels amassed from vibration levels to the operative. These points can then be monitored and reviewed to avoid the operative going beyond the marked EAV and ELV levels which pose a risk to health.
  • The ‘HAVwear Watch’ was introduced to measure actual exposure to the operative and was more effective than the HAVI meter. The watch enabled the measurement of levels, actual time, a visual reading and transfer of data to both operatives’ personal and overall logs. The HAVwear watch entry was published on Best Practice Hub on 4 April 2016.
  • Hand held plant was fitted with HAVI meters and their use was registered.
  • Operated plant was serviced by an external provider, with vibration checks carried out before and after each service.
  • The site subscribed to CLOCS and provided training to 10 members of staff in compliance.
  • Fifty of the employees from the department were booked on a safety awareness day at the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) in Buxton, thanks to the instigation of Site Manager Ian.
  • All operatives became face-fit trained and a defibrillator was maintained in a secure case alongside the site. A further unit was located within the inside market.
  • Annual PDRs (Performance Development Reviews) were held with employees to develop the training matrix and cover career path development.
  • The organisation was proud of its 40-year approach to apprentices, with many regularly winning awards.
  • All operatives were required to have current and valid CSCS cards and ICE badges used to record individuals’ details for emergencies.
  • There was close contact fostered between Tameside College and MANCAT (Manchester College of Arts and Technology).
  • Employees were given loyalty cards for borough-wide facilities including gym membership.
  • There was a rolling programme of presentations at schools and colleges to seek apprentices and promote careers in the industry. Similarly, “apprentice fairs” were held in the borough and five students from Tameside Sixth Form College visited the site to support their college projects.
  • The site team was treated to bacon butties as a thank you from the council’s Chief Executive in appreciation of their efforts on site.
  • Counselling services were made available for the workforce.

Recently published