Monday, 12 October 2009

Sorry markets folk this is not the most important day in your history - the Government have set up a committee, that's all!

Today the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) has been getting all frothy and excited over the reaction of the Government to the recent report from the Communities and Local Government Select Committee into traditional markets. Afficionados of The View from Cullingworth will know that I blogged on this report just following its publication in July. And the main substance of my response was this:

“There was…too much producer interest apparent - the market traders' association's desire to maintain their business through regulation rather than through competition and a stream of worthies from local government arguing for different types of new regulation and control. And I could scream at the prospect of a "national strategy" for markets under the malign aegis of the Department for Communities & Local Government.”

The Government’s response seems to take just the view expressed by the committee – the way to get better markets is to set up a new committee and a special interest group somewhere in the bowels of DCLG - replete with producer interests and selected local councillors:

“The Government will champion the interests of all markets with a new body that will bring together key government departments, representatives from the retail markets industry and the Local Government Association. Communities and Local Government will lead the group and assume the strategic lead for markets across Government.”

So there you go – brilliant! Markets are saved and protected by swift Government action. I think not, but the producer interests at NABMA and the Retail Markets Alliance seem to think this is the biggest and most important day in the history of our municipal and street markets.

All I would ask is:

1. Why no encouragement for non-municipal models of delivery?
2. How does having 2 or 3 meetings a year constitute “championing” markets?
3. Is there an agenda of real actions to support markets?

But above all, where are the proposals to stop supermarkets killing markets through predatory pricing and the planning changes needed to protect town centres?

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