Memorandum by Chelmsford Borough Council
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
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. SOCIAL AND
3.1 Using street trading as a vehicle to raise
awareness and educate the public about equality and diversity
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 (www.disabledgo.info
) 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.
4. WHAT QUALITIES
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.