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

Memorandum by Bolton Council (MARKETS 16)


  The Markets Industry in the UK is in need of support if it is to retain its long held traditions as a nurturing ground for small businesses and an anchor/community hub.

  Although the likes of TESCO'S, Marks and Spencer, and Morrison's all started out life on Markets, without Government intervention, it is difficult to see how these successes can be replicated to aspire and inspire future generations. The Planning "needs test", employing professional lobbyists and philanthropic gestures are unavailable to this section of the retail industry. Opportunities such as this Select Committee are warmly welcomed.

  It is no longer reasonable to assume that pure "retail market forces" will deliver on Socio economic priorities such as "place making" or even "place keeping". Why? Because ultimately the payback ability of the more deprived areas of the UK will mean that some locations may not be worth investing in by the private sector if their only driver is financial profit. Local Government must fill the void.

  Tie this into national priorities around health and the need for employment especially amongst those in deprived communities who are young and unskilled and it becomes obvious that without targeted interventions to promote self worth and self help, the Government and Local Councils are in danger of not fulfilling their social wellbeing obligations.

  Markets have the ability to breathe life into otherwise dead space. They create a sense of theatre and place and can be a source of tremendous civic pride. They rely on an ever decreasing client base of existing independent retailers and there is now a real need to find and encourage new entrepreneurs to keep the tradition that is a Market Stall alive.

  Local Authorities have a lead role to play in designing and delivering a social and physical infrastructure for the communities that they serve which is reliable, inclusive and fit for purpose both now and in future. This submission seeks to explain how a typical local authority Markets Service will add value to those priorities.

  This evidence is based on current thinking around re-energising the Markets Portfolio at Bolton Council and how this fits into the work of this Select Committee.

  It is a copy of a Committee Report that was presented to the Environmental Services Policy Development Group chaired by the Executive Member for the Environment on the Council. It should be read as a case study alongside the evidence submitted by the Retail Markets Alliance (RMA) and the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA). The submission outlines a strategy that seeks to deliver (at local level) the national outcomes and priorities suggested by Central Government as they stand today from an operational markets point of view. Whilst it acknowledges that Markets are part of the retail industry in the United Kingdom it does concentrate on describing how local government policy outcomes can be delivered.


  Bolton is one of the largest towns in England and is an integral part of the Manchester City Region. Bolton's heritage as an important textile town is reflected in its attractions and architecture with 600 individual buildings listed as being of special interest.

  The Bolton Borough covers 54 square miles and has a population of 265,000. It has an increasingly diverse community profile and has a growing tradition in cycling, boxing and Premiership Football. It is also home to some of Britain's best loved comedians.

  Bolton Council is a 4 Star Local Authority that is improving and achieved Beacon Status in 2007 for preventing and tackling anti social behaviour.

  The physical regeneration of the Borough is also progressing with major schemes planned for the Town Centre and district centres. In most a local market proposition is central to each development.

  To complement this physical regeneration the role of the Markets Service is growing in significance, especially with regard to healthy eating/lifestyle issues as a low cost opportunity to set up in business and as an opportunity to place keep by delivering themed market events that allow communities to engage and celebrate together.


  The Select Committee are requested to:

  Recommend the creation of a funded national pilot scheme to trial the concept of a Markets Apprenticeship Scheme. Applications could be assessed on a matched funding basis.

  Recommend that the Industry be allocated a prominent advocate within a relevant Government Office who would be empowered to facilitate ongoing and continuous proactive dialogue on all relevant national policy matters perhaps via the Retail Markets Alliance (RMA).

  Support a bid to create funding (perhaps through RDAs) to underwrite an analysis of local independent food supply chains in the UK. This work would have a strategic fit with the "live" DEFRA Select Committee on food security and will help the industry to maximise the potential on its emerging USP as a distribution mechanism for local food and drink. Models for this already exist in Europe (see Rungis Wholesale Market, Paris France).

  Support the creation of national data on the retail and wholesale markets industry via perhaps via CIPFA statistics (simple profit or loss to begin with) or the CAA basis that begins to capture the City Regional benefits of local markets which in turn will help to baseline future policy and future interventions.

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Prepared 23 July 2009