The Prime Minister’s announcement of a General Election on the 8th June caught many people unawares and prompted a review of the Markets Manifesto promoted by NABMA and NMTF prior to the 2015 General Election. Our Markets Manifesto highlighted five major issues and, as a starting point, it is worthwhile reflecting on the issues covered in the Manifesto and the success we achieved.
1 Lift the current burden of business rates by recognising the important roles played by markets in maintaining the vitality of town centres and creating new businesses.
We have achieved a significant result in this area with the Chancellor announcing in the 2016 Budget that business rates liability for micro businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or less would be scrapped from April 2017. We have also achieved a regular dialogue with the Valuation Office to discuss rating issues affecting markets. A new Valuation List has been published with many smaller markets seeing a reduction in business rates liability.
2 Ensure that the implementation of European legislation, particularly the European Services Directive, does not undermine the essential characteristics of a market and particularly enables markets to retain a proper balance of trade.
Whatever the eventual outcome of the BREXIT negotiations the Government has accepted the arguments of NABMA and NMTF on the potential harmful impact from implementing the European Services Directive in respect of markets and street trading and no further action is to be taken. In order to ensure that markets maintain a proper balance of trade policy we have produced advice and a recommended balance of trade template so that there is clarity for both operators and traders.
3 Achieve a review of street trading legislation in both London and the rest of the country to ensure that it meets the demands of modern trading requirements.
The Government did publish proposals to amend pedlars legislation, as part of the implementation of the European Services Directive, but both NABMA and NMTF regarded the proposals as unworkable and potentially detrimental to markets. The Government subsequently withdrew the proposals making it clear that a national review of street trading legislation is unlikely in the foreseeable future. The best hope for making progress resides in pursuing “local” legislation and NABMA and NMTF hopes that the announcement of a London Markets Board will act as a catalyst to achieving this objective
4 Recognising the need to provide markets with new locations to achieve a framework that enables procedures, particularly highway closures, to be implemented quickly and with minimum expense.
NABMA and NMTF have raised this issue within the Department of Communities and Local Government Retail Markets Forum but there appears little appetite to embrace changes particularly to highway legislation. We are continuing to identify examples of good practice that will assist markets in utilising new locations quickly and effectively. We have also provided legal advice to raise awareness of the required procedures.
5 Make it a legal requirement for market and street traders, event retailers and mobile caterers across the whole of the United Kingdom to have public liability insurance.
There is no prospect of general legislation on this important issue in the foreseeable future although the Government acknowledges the importance of traders having proper insurance cover. In the event that a review of London street trading legislation goes ahead we will press for the inclusion of appropriate provisions relating to public liability insurance. There is precedent for such action as Westminster already has provisions included in legislation relating to their area. In addition, NABMA and NMTF will continue to promote this policy as good practice for all markets, events and mobile catering.
It is clear that we achieved a great deal of success with our Markets Manifesto but we now need to “dust it down” and produce a revised one for the 2018 General Election. Some of the issues, such as business rates, reviewing street trading and making it a legal requirement to have public liability insurance are still relevant but the revised Markets Manifesto needs to focus on our Pitch Up for Retail project and the need to get more young people involved in markets. We need government support to achieve our objectives with Pitch Up for Retail.
We are need to ensure that the markets industry continues to have access to the Government. The Retail Markets Forum has provided an opportunity for us to meet with various government departments over the last seven years. It is vital that we keep these channels of communication open and argue for the continuance of the Forum.
The next few weeks are going to be very interesting. Make sure the markets voice is heard when you are talking to your prospective MP.
Graham Wilson OBE, Chief Executive NABMA