Market Failure?: Can the traditional market survive? - Communities and Local Government Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. Markets are our oldest form of exchange. They are the reason many towns exist. Our oldest markets, established under Royal Charter, can trace their origins back to medieval times.

2. We acknowledge the value of this heritage. It is not, however, the reason that we decided to undertake an inquiry into traditional retail markets. Rather, our motivation was to investigate whether markets remain relevant today, and whether thriving markets can continue to bring substantial and diverse benefits to the towns, cities and communities that sustain them and are in turn sustained by them. Prompted initially by observations in our own constituencies, we wanted to know whether markets today are fulfilling their potential and, crucially, whether there was more that local authorities and Government should be doing to help.

3. During the course of our inquiry we held four oral evidence sessions and received over 40 written memoranda from local and central government, the markets industry, consultancy firms, private operators, and market traders. We would like to thank everyone who took part, and gave us the benefit of their knowledge. We would like to give particular thanks to all who contributed to our successful visits to Ridley Road Market in Hackney, Chapel Market in Islington and Leicester Markets. Our visit reports are annexed to this report. We wish also to extend special thanks to Leicester City Council for letting us hold an oral evidence session in its council chambers.

4. Because we were particularly keen to hear from those with first-hand experience of doing business in markets, we ran a web forum aimed at market traders from Tuesday 17 March 09 until 28 April 09. We received helpful posts from market traders suggesting how to improve markets and assist market trading, why it is becoming harder to run a market stall and what makes a successful market, a number of which are quoted in our report. We would like to thank all those who participated in the web forum, and also the National Market Traders' Federation (NMTF) for helping us to publicise it. A summary report of the forum is annexed to this report.

5. Finally, we would like to extend our thanks to our two specialist advisers to this inquiry, Professor Alan Hallsworth of the University of Surrey and Professor Sophie Watson of the Open University. We would like to thank them both for their invaluable contribution.[1]

1   Professor Watson declared that she had no relevant interests. Professor Hallsworth declared the following interests: Adviser for the South East Regional Food Group Markets Policy Team, writing a report for SONY UK on UK retail market regulation, participant in Committee member Andrew George's cross-cutting group co-ordinating minority responses to the Competition Commission Groceries Inquiry Back

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