Memorandum by the National Association
of British Market Authorities (NABMA) (MARKETS 15)
The National Association of British Market
Authorities (NABMA) represents local authority market operators
and also a number of private market operators.
NABMA has also contributed to the response
from the Retail Markets Association and would want to endorse
the content of that submission.
NABMA welcomes the opportunity to respond
to the Select Committee and ask that the Select Committee considers
the following recommendations:
NABMA will be pleased to provide further
support on any of the issues referred to in this submission.
1. To encourage local authorities to recognise
the importance of markets in delivering the wider policy agenda,
particularly in terms of social and economic benefits.
2. To encourage business start up opportunities
on markets as part of a national scheme in partnership with local
3. To encourage the appointment of a Minister
with responsibility for markets to help in the provision of a
4. To encourage local authorities to appoint
a "Champion" for markets to ensure they receive appropriate
5. To encourage local authorities to invest
in their markets, particularly where markets currently produce
6. To encourage local authorities to consider
the most effective way of providing a markets service, particularly
through some of the innovative schemes already in existence.
7. To encourage partnership working to ensure
that markets are not seen as a "stand alone" service
but as part of an integrated service to the local and business
8. To encourage a co-ordinated approach
to retail and wholesale issues so that both sectors of the markets
industry can play effective roles.
9. To promote effective use of the current
licensing arrangements in partnership with local planning guidance.
"Markets represent our oldest and most successful
form of exchange. They are the reason why many towns exist
nothing can beat the bustle of a market to get you into a place."
Producing The GoodsMarkets and Market
Places (Common Ground)
Markets offer a host of benefits to a local
(a) Access to affordable local and fresh produce.
(b) Support for health agendas.
(c) Support for the local economy as most traders
live within a short distance of the market.
(d) Money collected and retained within the local
(f) Opportunities for new business start ups.
1. Markets have been an important local
authority service for many years. Almost local authorities have
the powers to operate markets. While some local authorities use
powers they have derived from Charters many rely on provisions
which are currently found in Part III of the Food Act 1984 which
provide for the establishment and operation of markets. Reference
is made in the submission of the Retail Markets Alliance to the
recent history and current position of retail markets. While it
is right to acknowledge that there has been an overall decline
in the number of stalls occupied on traditional retail markets
there has been a significant growth in farmers and other specialist
markets. However, it is also right to acknowledge that the decline
evidenced by the "Rhodes Study" is not widespread throughout
the country. There are examples of markets continuing to be successful
and are full on market days. Bury Market is an excellent example
of a successful market which regularly operates at full capacity.
It has won a host of national awards and during 2008 it attracted
nearly 1,200 coaches and twelve million visitors. On a smaller
scale Hinckley in the Midlands has seen growth in the operation
of its markets. Over the last year the number of stalls occupied
at Hinckley Market has grown by an average of 8.2% and the market
has grown from an average of 40 stalls to over 50 stalls.
2. Many markets still operate with a profit
margin. In Bury's case the net profit over the last two years
has been £872,000 and £901,000 respectively.
In Leicester there was a profit of £585,000 in the last
financial year and while the profit shown in Nuneaton and Bedworth
was significantly reduced, largely because of change in accounting
procedures, a profit of £41,500 was still produced last
3. However it is important to look at this
issue in the context of where the profit is actually spent. Many
local authorities have chosen to divert the profits from their
markets to other local authority services and this has produced
a significant problem of under investment in many markets. Bradford
has adopted a "ring fenced" approach to profits generated
through its markets allowing reinvestment of the profits back
into the markets. This has been responsible for Bradford having
a number of innovative and large scale market projects.
4. While the examples given above indicate
that substantial profits are still being earned by some local
authorities it is also the case that other local authorities are
currently running markets on a break even and also subsidy basis.
This is particularly the case in relation to a number of small
markets which probably cannot be justified on a purely economic
5. However the issue of lack of investment
in markets is merely symptomatic of a much wider problem of the
way in which many local authorities treat their markets. While
it is acknowledged that in a current local authority structure
of a small number of mixed portfolios there will be management
responsibility of a number of different areas it is sad to note
that in many instances the calibre of the markets management can
vary considerably. Many local authorities treat markets in a purely
regulatory role and do not embrace the wider benefit that markets
can bring. This is responsible for markets management often being
reactive rather than proactive. There is also a general lack of
effective marketing and promotion of markets which prevents markets
having the profile they deserve.
6. While it is important that markets operate
on a sound economic basis it is vitally important that markets
are seen in a wider context because seen in this way markets assume
a much more significant role within the local authority structure.
7. In 2007 the All Party Parliamentary
Markets Group endorsed a Markets Policy Framework which highlighted
a number of key areas to which markets contribute significantly.
Among these areas are:
(iii) Culture and tourism.
8. It is therefore important that local
authorities support markets in the context of this wider agenda.
Some markets will continue to make a profit but many others will
struggle in the years to come if the only basis for their continuance
is a financial return. While it is accepted that there will be
need for some rationalisation there is a fundamental need for
local authorities generally to move away from the regulatory approach
which sees markets simply as an economic enterprise to a situation
where markets have a role to play in the delivery of a number
of important local and national policies.
9. The Government's Planning Policy Statement
(PPS6) states, at Section 2.27: "Streets and Covered Markets
( including Farmers' Markets) can make a valuable contribution
to local choice and diversity in shopping as well as the vitality
of town centres and to the rural economy. As an integral part
of the vision for their town centres, local authorities should
seek to retain and enhance existing markets and, where appropriate,
reintroduce or create new ones. Local authorities should ensure
that their markets remain attractive and competitive by investing
in their improvement."
10. NABMA would urge the Select Committee
to re-emphasise the importance of this encouragement to local
authorities and particularly to view markets within the wider
11. There is an important job to do in changing
the attitude within many local authorities towards markets. Where
this is already happening there are visible signs of the benefits
that markets bring to the wider community.
12. Darlington is an excellent example of
how markets are a vital part of the local community. Darlington
has a wide range of markets including general markets, farmers'
markets, craft markets and special event markets. Darlington's
markets aim to provide something for everyone and with an increase
in Eastern European residents in the Borough the markets now attract
a different ethnic mix of customers. As a result new ranges of
foodstuffs are available at the markets. The markets in Darlington
have made a conscious effort to embrace the green agenda and recently
Darlington Markets won the NMTF Regional Trophy in the UK's Greenest
Markets Awards 2008. The market is a perfect fit within Darlington's
town centre and adds to the general vibrancy of the activities
of the town centre.
13. Bristol is another example of a local
authority that takes its markets seriously. In addition to the
St. Nicholas Market, located in the historic medieval centre of
Bristol there are also a range of other markets which include
the Bristol Farmers' Market and the Bristol Slow Food Market.
Bristol City Council has spent considerable resources in the development
of a "markets quarter" within the City and this has
become a prominent landmark.
There is an emphasis on food sales within the
markets and the standards that are observed promote high quality
in the different product ranges. There are also high standards
of environmental care in respect of the operation and welfare
of the markets.
14. Bradford City Council decided to undertake
a substantial investment in the development of Bingley town centre
which resulted in the creation of a new market square at the heart
of the town centre. The creation of the new market square enabled
the weekly market to relocate from its current position and also
provided an impetus with the introduction of a Food Festival over
the Easter weekend 2008. This event was extremely successful and
attracted over 30,000 people. All other retailers in Bingley
reported increased sales over the two days of the Food Festival.
The revamped market is now at the heart of Bingley town centre
and has the support of all sections of the community. Bingley
Chamber of Trade have reported increased footfall in the town
as a result of the local community returning to make regular purchases
on the market.
15. Many local authorities promote special
events as part of their markets offer and also combine market
activities with theatre, cultural festivals and other events.
The added importance of such events to the markets scene was highlighted
in 2006 by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the publication
of research on Markets as Social Spaces. This report concluded
that markets were important sites of social interaction for all
groups in the community but most significantly for older people,
especially women. Markets already represent important social spaces
for mothers with young children, young people and families with
children, particularly at weekends. The report also went on to
acknowledge that markets had an important social inclusion role.
Realising the potential of traditional retail
16. Against the background that has already
been provided it is clear that there is a mixed picture. Where
local authorities support markets in an effective way there is
evidence of success but there are also many examples of markets
that are the subject of neglect and under investment. In 2005 NABMA
commissioned a research paper from the Retail Enterprise Network
on the present status and future prospects for Retail Markets.
This work was undertaken by Dr Alan Hallsworth, University of
Surrey and Kathy Parker, Director of the Retail Enterprise Network,
Manchester Metropolitan University.
17. In determining the support for markets
in the future the report highlighted a number of key factors:
The need for Champions.
The need for pro-active management.
A recognition that one size does not
The need to be able to reinvest profit
and benefit from the regeneration that good markets can spur.
The recognition that to do nothing is
not an option.
The need for a source of financial investment
that is hypothecated by local authorities in order to action the
good intentions of PPS6.
18. The submission by the Retail Markets
Alliance raises the issue of where markets fit within the Government
structure. There are a number of Government Departments who have
responsibilities for different aspects of markets. While it is
accepted that there will always be some overlap between different
Government Departments it is important that there is a Markets
Champion. In the context of the value of markets to the national
economy and also the policy value that markets generate the Select
Committee is invited to recommend that a Government Minister should
be appointed with responsibility for markets to ensure that markets
have an effective voice within Government. The same situation
should be mirrored within local authorities where an appropriate
Portfolio Holder should have specific responsibility for the operation
of the market service within a wider policy framework.
19. Effective management is vital to the
success of any operation. It is clear that markets have suffered
in recent years from a failure in many local authorities to invest
in adequate management systems. Given that markets fulfil the
wider policy agenda staff should be expected to widen their horizons
from simply viewing markets as an economic entity to an operation
that embraces all the issues that have been identified in the
Policy Framework. Proactive management will mean that the market
service will have to link effectively with other town centre organisations
and community groups. Markets must not be seen as a stand alone
service but as an important cog in the overall delivery of a local
authority's service to its community.
20. In the report issued by the Retail Enterprise
Network it was acknowledged that "it may indeed be time to
leave some locations behind". There needs to be realistic
appraisals of whether markets continue to be situated in the right
location to serve the community. There must also be new thinking
on the way markets are delivered with flexibility in operating
times and a new approach by traders. Local authorities should
be encouraged to look at the locations they currently use and
determine where a market will effectively deliver their policy
21. Central Government has a role to play
in supporting markets by assisting with the provision of business
support. New start opportunities for traders and investment in
the running of markets are vital to the future success of market
activities. Currently there a number of local schemes which have
been piloted to bring new traders into the markets but these local
schemes need to be embraced within a national framework. Warrington
Borough Council is one of a number of local authorities that encourage
new market traders with help from the North West Regional Development
Agency. This has provided new traders with training, mentoring,
business support and financial help. The scheme operated by Warrington
has been successful in attracting new traders into the market.
Currently a national scheme, sponsored by "Make Your Mark"
is being operated throughout the country with the intention of
identifying new traders. This is being done in collaboration with
the National Association of British Market Authorities, National
Market Traders' Federation and Association of Town Centre Management.
22. Reference has already been made to the
encouragement given by PPS6. There is evidence of substantial
investment by some local authorities in their markets. Stockport
covered Market Hall is a wonderful example of how investment can
act as a catalyst to the market. In 2003 the market hall
was identified as being in need of refurbishment and by the end
of last year a major scheme of refurbishment had been completed
which had involved expenditure of almost £2 million.
The result is that the market hall has been restored to its former
glory and is now part of a retail and heritage section of the
23. Since 2002 £3 million
has been spent in the redevelopment of the Granger Market at Newcastle
upon Tyne. In April 2008 the Guardian described this market
as "one of those brilliant, old indoor markets some towns
are lucky enough still to have. It is full of independent traders
and craft people and folk selling stuff for less than you think
24. Liverpool is currently considering substantial
investment in its St. Johns Market and the new market is likely
to be the anchor point of the new shopping centre.
25. These are examples of local authorities
recognising the value of markets but there are many others who
have failed to respond to the encouragement in PPS6. In this respect
some additional encouragement to local authorities identifying
financial assistance that might be available to invest in markets
would help in the further regeneration of markets.
26. In the same way that local authorities
need to understand the greater significance of markets in terms
of delivery of a wider agenda to their community so the Government
need to understand that markets can make an effective contribution
to achieving national goals. The Select Committee have particularly
identified social cohesion, health and regeneration. The Policy
Framework Document, highlighted in this submission and also in
more detail in the submission from the Retail Markets Alliance,
details the areas covered by the Policy Framework. This all adds
weight for the appointment of a Government Minister with responsibility
Future provision of markets
27. Markets have always been a key local
authority activity but there are increasing signs that a number
of local authorities are looking at the provision of market services
by using different structures.
28. Glasgow have become the first local
authority to operate their markets through an arms length limited
company. This new structure enables the markets to operate independently
of the local authority and attracts investment on its own terms.
29. Other local authorities have considered
public/private partnerships in different formats.
30. Liverpool have entered into a partnership
agreement to provide investment and a new approach to the St.
John's Market in the centre of the city.
31. NABMA have a number of private market
operators within its membership and these private operators have
contributed significantly to the markets industry over many years.
32. There is a need for all local authorities
to consider how markets can be most effectively provided in their
areas. Many will choose to continue operating themselves but others
may find it helpful to contemplate new arrangements. Whatever
provision is contemplated the future must be considered against
criteria which embraces the wider agenda for markets.
The need for an integrated approach across retail
and wholesale sectors
33. It is vital that retail and wholesale
markets work together towards common objectives.
34. NABMA have a number of wholesale market
operators within its membership and one of NABMA's key objectives
is to promote an integrated approach.
35. This is particularly the case in terms
of delivering one of the key objectives of the Policy Framework.
36. The policy on food and health recognises
the significant role that wholesale and retail markets can play
in delivering this agenda. This includes promoting and supporting
business opportunities at wholesale level in relation to improved
supply-chain efficiency; accessing new markets for regional and
local food (including local food hubs), public procurement and
the fruit and vegetables into schools scheme.
37. NABMA seeks to encourage interaction
between wholesalers and their retail market customers. This helps
to ensure that wholesalers acknowledge their responsibility to
be part of an effective supply chain which provides consumers
with what they want to eat.
Planning and Licensing Legislation
38. The submission by the Retail Markets
Alliance covers the main issues that NABMA would want to support.
39. Local authorities through their existing
market rights have the opportunity to license markets and car
boot sales in their area.
40. Leeds and Leicester are examples of
two local authorities who do this in an effective way and NABMA
supports a similar approach in more authorities.
41. It is important that standards in markets
are raised and local authorities are in the best position to regulate
the quality and number of markets being held.
42. This licensing approach must be undertaken
within a clear planning framework and NABMA also supports the
provision of local planning guidance on the holding of markets
as described in the submission of the Retail Markets Alliance.