Mayor announces plans to boost London’s markets

• Sadiq Khan says street markets are an important part of English culture ahead of St George’s Day

 The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced plans to recruit a team of industry experts and business leaders to help preserve and grow London’s vibrant markets.

The London Markets Board – the first of its kind in the capital – will ensure that markets continue to flourish, support growth in high streets and town centres, and remain vibrant attractions for all Londoners and visitors the capital.

In London there are over 250 street markets, which are an important part of English culture. The Mayor wants to recognise their national value as he looks forward to the biggest-ever St George’s Day celebrations in London this weekend.

The number of markets is increasing in London. In 2010 there were just 162 – and the Mayor has pledged to do all that he can to ensure their revival continues and that they remain a vital part of life in the capital. Since his election less than a year ago, he has invested in London’s markets through the High Street Fund and London Regeneration Fund, as well as garnering support for community-run markets through his Crowdfund London initiative.

The London Markets Board will advise the Mayor and Jules Pipe, the Deputy Mayor for Skills, Regeneration and Planning, on the delivery of a London markets strategy, and on action to support and promote the capital’s wholesale, street and covered markets.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m a proud Londoner and a proud Englishman who has grown up with traditional street markets. Markets are deeply woven into the tapestry of English culture and nowhere is that more true than here in London. They are far more than a place to do your shopping – they are places where people meet and talk.

“I promised to be the most pro-business Mayor that London has ever seen which is why, as we lead up to St. George’s Day, I have pledged not just to preserve and protect London’s markets but also to set up our very first London Market Board to help ensure that these spaces thrive for the benefit of local entrepreneurs, small businesses and everybody who visits them.”

As well as setting up the London Markets Board, the Mayor has tasked City Hall with examining the social and economic value of markets in London. A major report – ‘Understanding London’s Markets’ – to be published later this year will outline the value markets bring to local communities and London as a whole in relation to employment, skills and training, community cohesion, health and well-being and culture. It will include the first ever map of all of London’s markets, which will be published online, allowing people to search for local markets and filter by functions such as market type and opening times.

In December 2016, the Mayor opened Well Street Market in Hackney, which relaunched thanks to money from his Crowdfund London scheme. The Mayor pledged £20,000, along with £8,000 from Hackney Council, to reach a total fundraising target of £81,134 needed to open the community market, where local people access healthy, affordable, good quality food as well as a Student Makers Market and live music stage.

The London Regeneration Fund is investing £1 million in Romford Market to build a high quality new market house, reposition and modernise the stalls, create a less cluttered market place, and allow for a larger number of traders to operate. Romford Market was established in 1247 by Royal Charter as a sheep market. Cattle trading ended in the late 1950s but the market continues to act as a focal point of the town, attracting customers from around London and beyond.

Sue Terpilowski OBE, London Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Markets play an integral role in the fabric of London society.  They are more than just a place to do business – they are a place to socialise, are part of our capital’s heritage and provide cultural benefits to London’s tourism offering. They provide a good starting point for many new businesses as they discover key intelligence about their target market. It is a great way to learn about customers and business skills and are an integral part of the growth journey for many businesses.”

Graham Wilson OBE, Chief Executive of the National Association of British Market Authorities, said: “London has a rich variety of markets and the Mayor’s decision to establish a Markets Board recognises the importance of markets and the vital role they play in many aspects of London life. The Markets Board will provide the ideal opportunity to raise the profile of markets and address some of the issues that are important in securing a successful future for markets. The Markets Board is the beginning of a new era for markets and one that everyone associated with markets welcomes with great anticipation.”