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

Memorandum by Chelmsford Borough Council (MARKETS 08)


    — Chelmsford Borough Council's in-house town centre management team have been working with internal and external partners to leverage the possibilities offered by street trading to promote community cohesion.

    — This paper highlights how street trading has been used to positive social and economic effect in Chelmsford.


    — Chelmsford is located 35 miles to the east of London. Despite its proximity to East London (25 minutes by train to Stratford) Chelmsford's population is not particularly diverse, with BME residents only representing 6% (Office of National Statistics 2006)

    — Chelmsford is a popular town centre shopping destination offering traditional high street stores and a mix of independent shops, restaurants, cafes and bars.

    — A key strand of Chelmsford Borough Council's corporate plan is social inclusion and the council has been recognised regionally and by the Audit Commission for its achievements in promoting equality and diversity.


3.1  Using street trading as a vehicle to raise awareness and educate the public about equality and diversity issues

  The Council's in-house town centre management operates street trading on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year and Chelmsford is well known for the lively, welcoming environment created by the presence of traders selling fresh produce, specialist foods, crafts and flowers.

  In October 2008, to celebrate Black History Month, the Council held an event, offering free stalls to traders selling goods such as Caribbean food, Indian food, black hair and beauty products. In addition, there was a programme of live music from a range of local BME music groups. As a direct result of the event, the Council's town centre management team was able to put one of the specialist traders in touch with the Council's inward investment team who helped them to locate a suitable premises in Chelmsford from which to grow their business.

  The Black History Month event served as a springboard for some BME traders to evaluate the potential of their business ideas, having benefited from a free market pitch on one of the busiest days of the year.

3.2  The value of equality impact assessing street trading activities

  Having fully equality impact assessed High Street trading activity the Council has put in place traders' terms and conditions that require them to uphold the standards of equality that the Council demands of its own employees and suppliers. Failure to comply with these standards of behaviour will result in the trader losing their pitch with immediate effect. The impact assessment also ensures that the Council treats all applicants for street trading fairly and equitably. For example, traders for whom English is not their first language must not be disadvantaged and will be offered help to complete the necessary registration, licensing and insurance documentation

3.3  Making Chelmsford accessible to all sections of the community

  By leveraging the popularity of High Street trading activity, the town centre management team has been able to raise awareness of other Council initiatives to a wide audience. For example, the Council has invested in promoting Chelmsford on the DisabledGo! Website ( ) which informs residents and visitors about the accessibility of literally hundreds of venues throughout the town centre. Pop up stands have been displayed in the town centre in key locations to drive people to the DisabledGo! Website.

  An event was held to celebrate Older People's Day in collaboration with Age Concern. Proceeds from town centre trading pitch fees were used to pay for staging and sound for the event which enabled various older people's community groups to showcase their activities. The event was broadcast on BBC Essex throughout the day.


  Chelmsford's town centre management team have established open lines of communications with a wide range of traders, community and voluntary groups via the Council's website, the bi-monthly town centre liaison group and the monthly town centre e-newsletter which has a distribution list of over 400 contacts and can be made available in alternative formats as required.

  The town centre management team also works closely with the Equality and Diversity Officer, the Inward Investment team and the two centrally located shopping malls to maximise the opportunities available for community groups to play a full part in the life of the town centre, generally maximising the popularity of street trading as a crowd-puller.

  This friendly, "can do" approach has ensured reliability on the part of the traders and also their loyalty. In the current economic climate, a number of markets have shrunk in size or been cancelled. Chelmsford traders have remained loyal to the town centre management team as they are treated with respect, professionalism and a genuine interest in helping them grow their own business.

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