Friday, 5 April 2013

Why does Bradford Council want to close its wonderful market?


It is pleasing to see - how rare this is - a national newspaper finding wonders outside of London and the Home Counties. And even more delightful when the wonder is in Bradford:

Oastler Shopping Centre, Bradford Bradford is a melting pot of cultures and the centre’s covered market reflects that; its stalls are packed with specialist foods from all over the world. There are cured meats and cheeses from Italy, Polish delicacies, jars of sauerkraut, Caribbean products such as yam flour and palm oil, and plenty of freshly ground spices at my favourite stall, Spice World.

Yes folks that's our market - what used to be John Street market, the place where Mr Morrison had his first stall. And it is a great place, filled with difference and interest - an escape from the sterilised sameness of the supermarket and the shopping mall.

Bradford should be proud of this market - it should be on the front cover of the glossy brochures. More than any other bit of our City Centre it tells the story of the town and holds out hope for the future.

So it will come as no surprise to my readers to hear that - just as was the case with Queen's Road Market at Upton Park - the Council sees the market as a development opportunity. The "preferred option" (what a deadening phrase) is that the two City Centre markets are merged. Not on the site of John Street but in the Kirkgate Centre. The land at the top of town between John Street and Hamm Strasse would land a great big "for sale" sign - ideal, say Bradford's regeneration, bosses for a supermarket or for housing.

In the 1990s Bradford Council - for no good reason - closed down West Yorkshire's last specialist food markets, Rawson Market and James Street Fish Market. They dumped the stallholders in a temporary market (having previously promised them a new market hall) and left them to struggle and for most to close.

It seems that the Council is set on repeating the error - of closing down something good and special on the promise of something better. But 'something better' this time is just a big supermarket!



Anonymous said...

I have fond memories of Rawson Market. My mother used to be a barmaid at the Rawson pub and we used to go in the market. There were stalls around the walls where you could go and eat pie & peas and other delicacies.
Arcades up Darley Street and a great Central Library. All gone.
Visited Florence some time ago and there was a replica market with the stalls round the outside where you could get a proper flavour of Italy.
I live in Leeds now, where arcades have been preserved and gentrified, but at least they are still there.
Bradford was the city of my birth, schooling and university. I never visit now. It's a hole in the ground, in more ways than one.
Such a shame.

asquith said...

Not a bad one that. I'm in Stoke and I have to go to Manchester or Birmingham to find the Indian sweets, which as you may be aware are just to die for. (And you probably will die if you eat more'n a handful, though you'll do so happily).

At these markets, you get people coming along on a regular basis and buying the same stuff from traders who know and love their patch, often producing the ingredients themselves, and why do councils seem hell-bent on preventing these transactions from happening?

You should see our council if you want something to bemoan. Mind you, almost everyone (me excepted, obviously) votes Labour so it's hard to see what else they were expecting. It's the way they fall into line and publicly express opinions they can't possibly hold in their own minds or hearts. And any area that allows itself to become a one-party state is the same, which is why I envy our neighbours in Staffordshire Moorlands who have all the main parties, an independent group and a strong group of locally-minded independents (and absolutely no "Respect" at all).