What a great start to 2015.

We had a wonderful Great British Markets Awards competition with over eighty entries in the various sections and a sold out One Day Conference to promote further consideration on Mission for Markets. This year we rebranded our market awards to follow the example of the Great British High Street Awards and also introduced new criteria to enable the judging panel to have the benefit of more detailed information about each market. The results are dealt with elsewhere in this edition but it is clear that we have some wonderful markets operating around the country.

The winners deserve our congratulations for their efforts but the fact that we had over eighty entries indicates the strength of the markets industry. There is still much to be proud of and celebrate. The Great British Market Awards were presented at the One Day Conference at Birmingham and it was a great feeling to be able to post, a fortnight before the event, a “sold out” notice. While many organisations complain about falling attendances it is a tribute to Nabma that this is the third consecutive One Day Conference that has achieved a full house. During the One Day Conference there were a variety of presentations about the six challenges identified and highlighted in Mission for Markets, and the next stage of the work on Mission for Markets includes a series of Roadshows being held at Ashton Under Lyne, Bridport, Cambridge, Newcastle Under Lyme and Stockton starting in mid-February and going through to the end of March.

We want everyone interested in markets to come to these Roadshows. Full details can be found on the Nabma website. One of the important presentations at the One Day Conference concerned business rates and early in January I had a meeting with the Valuation Office about the potential extension of business rates liability to Christmas Markets. This proposal is still in its formative stage but the Valuation Office is currently looking at Christmas Markets held on a year-by-year basis and which take place over an extended period. What is meant by an extended period is yet to be defined but certainly those places with single day events or events held over a weekend are not included in the Valuation Office proposals.

It is unlikely that we will see further developments in the immediate future but I have been promised that Nabma will be consulted before any proposals are implemented so watch this space for further updates. However one worrying aspect is that if your Christmas Market is included it is likely that the liability will be backdated to 2010. Other issues on business rates that emerged from the meeting concerned street trading. The Valuation Office might be taking a different view on street trading. Up to now the Valuation Office has not really imposed business rates liability on street trading activity. However if a street trader has been trading from the same pitch for a long time this might now give rise to business rates liability in respect of the trader. Secondly if the local authority has granted a single licence for a person, organisation or private operator to run a street market then this might bring the arrangement within the scope of business rates liability. At the moment it is unlikely there will be any significant movement on these issues but market operators need to be aware of the potential for changes to be implemented. Of course if a local authority had granted a single licence to run a street market it is right to question whether this is allowed under London legislation or the 1982 Act but that is a matter for each local authority to consider with the benefit of proper advice. My own view is that such an arrangement is highly questionable.

Turning to more positive news registration for Love Your Local Market 2015 is now open. Go to the Love Your Local Market website and complete the simple registration. We have no specific target this year but it would be wonderful if we are able to reach the magical one thousand markets. The themes for this year are young people and digital engagement.

Last month I talked about making 2015 the year for collecting data about your market. I hope you made this one of your New Year resolutions. I will be watching to see how many people accepted the challenge by looking at the responses we get when asking for information.

Graham Wilson OBE,
Chief Executive,