Page 15 - MarketTimesDecember2015
P. 15

     Market Times • December 2015
How markets can save our town centres
NEWS
   IT CAN seem like an unstoppable phenomenon — a David and Goliath battle. Markets are being elbowed out by the big supermarkets, the pound shops and internet shopping.
High streets are struggling as their markets dwindle and more people opt for the convenience of the big shopping malls or a computer click.
But the battle is not lost, according to Julian Dobson, a writer and researcher, who has written a book entitled How To Save Our Town Centres.
And he sees markets as the key to
JulianDobson
turning the tide.
Julian began his working life as a
local newspaper reporter and he well remembers the days when market traders used to come into the office that was on the High Street in Tunbridge Wells to complain about parking or give their views on anything and everything.
He went on to become a magazine editor and, more recently, to found Urban Pollinators, a research consultancy based in Sheffield that addresses the challenges of rejuvenating town and city centres to make them better places for people to live and work in.
Julian got involved in the Mary Portas review and went on to write his book to try to shed light on the plight of town centres and suggest a way forward.
Julian told Market Times: “The debate on saving town centres has tended to centre on their retail offering, but I argue in my book that we should look at it holistically. One of the reasons there has been a particular interest in markets is that they can create that buzz and sense of community that’s lost in identical supermarkets and shopping centres.
“If you look at the UK, and
particularly England, you find that the market is an essential part of a town’s identity and history and we get rid of that at our peril.”
He says that traditionally markets have been places where new ideas have flourished, and losing them would harm entrepreneurship.
He also points to the social and community benefits of markets.
“A successful market provides far more than a place to pick up a bargain. They can bring community together, help promote healthy eating, provide more environmentally sustainable models of retailing than the large supermarkets, offer opportunities for new businesses, and bring life into town centres.”
Julian says that markets are not going to save high streets on their own, but they are a clue to the way forward. And he outlined to Market Times a number of steps he thinks should be taken to save town centres.
Firstly, markets should be protected as places where people can trade relatively cheaply.
Where local authorities are running markets, it is important that they view markets not as income generators, but as a catalyst for economic growth.
“Planning decisions must be made
to support markets, not to drag people away from them,” he said.
“Markets must be physically at the heart of towns. Also, it is important to raise awareness of the value of spending money locally. And sometimes councils just pay lip service to this,” he added.
Julian said there needed to be greater understanding of the need to support the local economy, and councils needed to be more robust in resisting the lure of development that is only open to big companies, such as out of town developments.
Finally, he says there should be a rethink on the ownership of town centre property. “Unless you consider putting property into trust for local people, you will always be in the hands of developers who want to make a big profit,” he said.
His book is available at http:// urbanpollinators.co.uk/?product= how-to-save-our-town-centres — price £23.99.
projects@nmtf.co.uk, and we’ll do the rest.
The Mission for Markets strategy document can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/M4MPub15
  Take part in Mission for Markets
       THE Mission for Markets campaign — a joint venture between NABMA and the NMTF — has been gathering momentum since its launch in September.
The initiative, which includes the biggest survey of the UK’s retail markets, sets out a clear strategy to secure the industry’s future.
It addresses six major issues that
must be tackled if the industry is to not just survive, but thrive, and includes a five-point manifesto of targets to be achieved, principally directed at the Government.
As much as it can the continuing campaign will take into account the interests of businesses not normally on traditional retail markets — street traders, events retailers and
mobile caterers.
Its website —
www.mission4markets.uk — is continually increasing in content.
And here both traders and operators are encouraged to contribute by submitting case studies, examples of best practice — anything that makes an interesting story.
Please send any information to
                                                                                                                                            Look after your van – or face prosecution
THE Government is encouraging van users to better maintain their vehicles. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says that in 2014 and 2015 more than 3.5 million light goods vehicles were registered in Great Britain, travelling an estimated
45.5 billion vehicle miles.
DVSA and the transport industry
are working together to highlight the road safety risks associated with poor maintenance and overloading.
Operating a poorly maintained van could result in an accident, not only
endangering the driver, but the lives of other road users. Making sure these vehicles are regularly serviced and maintained will help goods and services reach their destination — promoting a reputation for reliability and increasing road safety.
To encourage van users to stay safe and legal, DVSA has created a range of videos and guidance including a routine walkaround check, to highlight mechanical areas of concern. The most commonly identified defects are: tyres, lights and
reflectors, suspension, steering, transmission.
DVSA’s Head of Enforcement, Gordon MacDonald, said: “A van is so much more than a delivery vehicle. Customer loyalty is hard to gain and reputations can be damaged if customer appointments are not met. This loss will be reflected in the company’s income.
“Vans are workhorses that frequently travel large distances, often with large loads. So it’s essential that van users know how to
stay safe and legal. Being van smart — knowing basic vehicle safety, and carrying out regular maintenance checks, is an important part of this. It can help make sure the vehicle reaches its destination, saving time and money for businesses and making the roads safer for everyone”.
Videos and guides have been combined within www.Van- Smart.uk webpage, together with all the essential information for driving a van.
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