Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
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Pickles: Markets first to breathe new life into town centres

Markets across the country are seizing the initiative and leading the drive to revitalise the nation's town centres, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said recently.

Mr Pickles praised retail markets groups for agreeing to hold a special "Love Your Local Market" fortnight in the summer, and called on all market managers to get involved so more budding entrepreneurs have the opportunity to test and develop their business ideas on a market stall.

Would-be retailers will be able to benefit from proposals such as "tables for a tenner", where they can turn up on the day and pay just ten pounds for a stall. Other initiatives include "market mentors", where seasoned market managers and traders will offer tips and advice on how to run a successful business.

The move, announced recently at a national conference for market and town centre managers, mirrors recommendations in Mary Portas' High Street Review, which recommends that markets become the test beds for prospective shopkeepers to try their hand at running a low-cost business.

The review published last month was commissioned by the Government to look at the future of high streets, and recommends there is a national day to promote markets and help would-be entrepreneurs use markets as a step on the business ladder.

Responding to the call, markets have agreed to go even further, with a series of special market days over an entire fortnight, so markets that only meet on specific days can be involved.

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps called on council-run markets to also get involved, and said councils should prepare for the special fortnight by considering steps such as temporary transport and parking arrangements that could maximise the positive impact the markets have on their local economy.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

"The best markets play a crucial role in community life and the local economy. Whether run by farmers or fashionistas - they can draw shoppers to the area, and are a fantastic testing ground for budding entrepreneurs.

"The bustle of a busy market has been a great British tradition for over a thousand years, and big names like Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Morrisons and JJB Sports all started out as a market stall.

"So I'm delighted that national markets groups have responded swiftly to the call by Mary Portas, and over an entire fortnight will lend their expertise to people who want to try their hand at running a business."

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps:

"We need a business-led renaissance to bring life back to our town centres. So councils should start exploring every option to make life easier for markets during this special fortnight - from better transport and public conveniences, to temporary pedestrian streets and parking arrangements."

The National Association of British Market Authorities Chief Executive Graham Wilson said:

"We have some fantastic markets around the country and they provide wonderful opportunities for new start-up business. We were delighted with the recognition that Mary Portas gave to markets in her report and we want to be seen to respond positively to Mary's proposals. The whole of the markets industry is supporting "Love Your Local Market" and we are determined to show the real benefits that markets provide."

The conference held today at the Council House in Birmingham was attended by almost 200 representatives of local authorities and market operators.

The Love Your Local Market fortnight will be held from 23 June to 8 July. In the next few weeks the Markets Alliance, the umbrella organisation of the markets industry, will publish a special pamphlet and webpage with guidance to help market managers get involved in the scheme.


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