Memorandum by the London Borough of Bexley
1. SUMMARY AND
This brief submission seeks to draw attention
to two issues:
(a) markets in towns with a "discount"
retail offer; and(b) constraints of Royal Market Charters.
2. CURRENT MARKET
The London Borough of Bexley has a Charter for
a market in Erith. The town centre is one that has seen investment
over the last 10 years and new retail outlets anchored. A consequence
is that the general market has disappeared owing to many stall
holders being unable to compete with the prices in the retail
outlets such as ironmongery (now provided by a Wilkinson store
open seven days a week).
However, the nature and catchment area of the town,
has also meant a more specialist market to differentiate it from
the High Street offer has not been possible unless related to
occasional and major events coming through the town (eg Tour de
This does suggest that, in some locations, the
traditional customer base of general markets is being eroded by
the retail offer of multiples. Overall the retail outlets provide
a more convenient offer and a question is how the general market
can compete or adapt and change. There seems a significant gap
between the general and specialist markets. Consequently, where
markets can add most vitality, it is often difficult to secure
a commercial operator.
3. CONSTRAINTS OF
Boroughs (within and outside London) have Royal
Charters for Markets which prevent towns within a certain radius
having markets on the same day. Historically, the Charters were
used to support general markets albeit some would relate to seasonal
themes throughout the year.
However, there seems to be an increasing tendency
to use this historical power to prevent specialist markets (eg
continental markets) taking place in neighbouring towns. Typically
this prevents markets being held on certain days which, when booking
a specialist market, means some of the more rewarding trading
periods (eg over a weekend) cannot be accommodated thereby creating
encouraging the operator to opt for an alternative location able
to do so. At a stage when most towns are seeking to improve the
vitality of their town centre, this appears to be an unnecessary
Consequently, it is suggested that there should
be some differentiation given to types of markets and the application
of Royal Market Charters reviewed accordingly.