NABMA – the voice of markets

Somewhat later than I envisaged, I can now tell you that NABMA has a new Chief Executive. Hilary Paxman, who is currently a senior civil servant in the Department of Communities and Local Government, will join NABMA on the 1st June. Hilary has supported markets through her role at DCLG for the last nine years and she is a tremendous appointment for NABMA. She will bring a new dimension to the role and everyone involved with NABMA is looking forward to working with her.

In the first three months Hilary will be undertaking a comprehensive review of NABMA’s organisation and she wants to talk to as many people as possible about the current NABMA offer and how it can be improved. If you want to share any thoughts with Hilary please get in touch by contacting

The formal handover as Chief Executive will take place at NABMA’s Annual Conference, but this does not mean you are getting rid of me entirely. The provision of legal advice and support is one of the services our members value very highly and therefore, I will be staying on in the role of Legal Advisor from September.

Life is very hectic as the moment as NABMA continues to hold its Regional Meetings and celebrate the annual LYLM campaign but I am happy to accept such pressures when you witness the success of both these initiatives.

The latest two Regional Meetings have been held in London and Llanelli and it was great to hear stories from the markets at Camden and Llanelli. At Camden we heard from an organisation called New Horizons using markets to help underprivileged young people and, at the other end of the scale, Llanelli telling us about how the market has become dementia friendly.

I think our Regional Meetings this year have been our most successful with in excess of two hundred people attending. It is clear that they have become an important part of the NABMA offer.

At the meeting in Camden, we featured the soon to be established London Markets Board and it is interesting that when we had the Regional Meeting in Llanelli, there was support for approaching the Welsh Assembly to see whether they are willing to consider establishing a Welsh Markets Board. As we witness more and more regional government, we need to promote a more strategic role to advance the cause of markets.

LYLM was launched at Keswick and what a wonderful occasion with a glorious day, a full market, big crowds, jazz bands and a children’s choir. It could not have been better and you will see the event celebrated elsewhere in this publication.

However, there was “ a blot” on the Keswick landscape and that was the presence of a pedlar operating within yards of the market with a big trolley selling goods that are being sold by market traders and nearby shops. Many traders and shopkeepers made a point of expressing concern to me about the impact the pedlar is having on the market and other shops.

Of course, the legislation relating to pedlars has many imperfections and the Government seems unwilling to legislate to bring them under proper control, but I hope something can be done in Keswick to remove “the blot” from what is a great market and town centre.

No one envisaged that when we started LYLM six years ago it would still be growing, but the evidence of 2017 suggests that it is still embracing new markets and new countries. Argentina is the latest to join the list of countries supporting LYLM.

In the first few days of LYLM 2017 there have been 24 million social media imprints giving us a firm foundation for believing that we will surpass the 2016 figure of 75 million. I marvel at the enthusiasm and ingenuity of market people who year on year showcase markets so wonderfully and they do it because they love their markets.

Turning to another great markets campaign, we are making a few changes to the annual Great British Market Awards. The launch this year will be earlier, in July, to avoid the last minute rush to get entries in by the end of the year and we have reduced the categories from 13 to 10. There will still be online voting for Britain’s Favourite Market, but we intend to publish the results from the top six and arrange a visit from the judges to make sure the winning market meets our standards.

It is going to be a busy summer as we build up to NABMA’s Annual Conference at Stratford Upon Avon in September. Bookings for the Conference between the 17th and 19th September are now open. Join us and celebrate the success stories from some wonderful markets. I am sure both Hilary and I will be delighted to see you there.

Graham Wilson OBE, Chief Executive, NABMA