Birmingham City Council is reported to have decided that Digbeth’s historic and commercially viable wholesale markets, which integrate fruit and vegetables, fish, poultry, meat and flower trading operations on one site, are to be forced to leave their city centre site. Will this be confirmed at their meeting on March 25th?
In a move worthy of the Secret State, so often featured on this site, and the corporate /political nexus so often deplored here, Birmingham Council will not name the entity which has agreed to develop the out-of-town site and refuses to reveal to their electorate how much it will cost to build the new market.
As economist David Bailey writes:
“It is one of the largest integrated markets in Europe, and the largest in England. Its operational model, in particular its close links with many small firms in the city and the outdoor retail markets, is seen as something of a benchmark internationally.
Rightminded Councillor John Clancy, referring to the wholesale traders, said in the council chamber:
“I think these are the kind of local micro-businesses we should be support. I am sick and tired of large retail development and enterprise zones, lining up large multinational businesses from outside the city.”
Most visitors to this site will not know the detail of this saga so a few facts are listed here:
- The Essential Catalyst Study, by Technolink UK for the 73 market trading companies has calculated that the Markets directly employ 1700 people, support close to 15,000 jobs regionally, cater to 5,000 small businesses and restaurants, and are a ‘key economic catalyst’ in the heart of the City.
- Wholesale Markets stallholders claim they would be unable to afford “significantly higher” rents at a new purpose-built site and an estimated 40% increase in overheads (Technolink)
- Their council landlords accepted rents but failed to keep the premises in repair.
- Adding insult to injury? Despite this dereliction of duty, the former administration proposed a 22.5% year-on-year increase in service charge
- Traders have expressed a wish to scrutinise the council’s records to discover revenues received during the last ten years, and what has been spent on repairs and maintenance.
The ‘Essential Catalyst Study’, by Technolink UK sees a vibrant business cluster which supports a range of ancillary business services. It believes that harnessing this dynamism could provide a sustainable basis for regenerating the Digbeth and southern city centre areas.
If the council sees sense.