This is an old article that I wrote for Friends Of The Earth.


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Birmingham Council, heed the government advisor who calls for a new generation of markets

Last week, Tim Lang (City University), a member of the government’s Council of Food Policy Advisors and trustee of London’s popular Borough Market, spoke at a markets committee dinner, held by the City of London which runs the New Spitalfields Market. Horticulture Week adds detail to the report of the Fresh Produce Journal.

Professor Lang called for a ‘rethink’ on how cities will be fed in 20 to 30 years’ time:

Markets are a mode of food supply going back more than eight centuries that has to come back.

Markets offer an alternative to supermarkets, which dominate food selling and – though coming back into towns – are still using an unsustainable model. A quarter of lorries on the road are carrying food and a quarter of the wagons are empty.

There are definitely some tough times ahead of us. Energy, water, carbon footprint – everything is happening at once and it’s going to change our food system.

Food is 30% per cent of our carbon footprint and the new generation of markets needs to be sustainable. The choices made 100 years ago just can’t continue.

London’s Borough Market is trying to experiment with wholesale and make markets pleasurable tourist attractions. Professor Lang believes in the combined ‘wholesale and retail offer’ and sees a ‘great future’ for other wholesale and retail markets.

Tim Lang is a long-standing colleague of the co-founder of Localise West Midlands, Colin Hines.

This article has been reproduced from:

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On the 14th of October 2011 traders from the Bull Ring Open Market and Wholesale Market held a public meeting to discuss the future of the markets if Birmingham City Council decide to take the option to close the Wholesale Market in 2013 when it goes back to cabinet in January 2012 and the impact that this would have on the city.

Michael Ward was a speaker at the meeting and spoke about the probable disastrous results this would have on Birmingham both economically and culturally.

You can listen to him here.

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On October 14th 2011, traders from the Bull Ring Market and the Wholesale Market held a public meeting at St Martins Church in the Bull Ring. They invited Carl Chinn, local historian and newspaper columnist and Michael Ward, a public policy specialist, to talk about the markets and their historic, cultural, social and economic importance. Traders also talked about the current situation affecting the markets.

A big thank you to all those who attended either as speakers or as audience. Thanks to the members of the public who engaged with this issue and asked us some very good questions.

I filmed the meeting and have been painstakingly trying to edit on an almost defunct lap top which is why it has taken me so long! The meeting is in four parts;

PART 1 – Traders from Bull Ring Market and Wholesale Market talking about current situation as they see it.

PART 2 – Carl Chinn giving us a brilliant trip into the past and connecting it to our everyday experience of the Bull Ring Markets.

PART 3 – Michael Ward, public policy specialist highlighting why it is of utmost importance to keep the Wholesale Market in the centre of the city.

PART 4 – Q and A between the public and speakers.

So far, I have only managed to get Part 1 and Part 2 active, the rest to follow…

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Today we attended a meeting in Great Barr to discuss the impact that the Wholesale market closure could have on Senior Citizens.

Bernice explains to the group what has been happening and they are very supportive. So thanks to them for inviting us and offering us their support in our campaign to Save Our Markets!


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On Friday 14th October 2011 at 2pm til 4pm in St Martins Church, traders from the Bull Ring Open Market are holding a public meeting to discuss the future of these historic markets.

Speakers include Carl Chinn, local historian and newspaper columnist and Michael Ward, a regeneration and public policy specialist will talk about the historical, social, economic and cultural importance of our markets to the people of Birmingham.

As Michael Ward highlights more than 1150 retail markets operate in the UK, employing nearly 100, 000 people and generating over more than £125 million pounds per year for the market operators. Can Birmingham really afford to lose these historic and economically vibrant markets in a time of economic hardship and high unemployment nationwide?

Members of the public, local councillors and MP’s and local businesses are invited to come and have their say.

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Bull Ring Market traders, traders from the Wholesale Markets and members of the public joined together today to show Lib Dem politicians the importance of the Wholesale markets and the Bull Ring markets to Birmingham. Around 60 people marched upto the I.C.C.

Marching through the streets of Birmingham City Centre to the ICC, traders received support from members of the public.

On reaching our destination, traders chanted and co-chair of Bull Ring Open Markets Traders Committee went live on radio WM to put the question to Cllr Paul Tilsley about why this decision had been made. This was the first time traders have been able to elicit any direct response from Tilsley. You can hear this on

Bernice Ellis – co-chair of Bull Ring Open Markets Traders Committee feels that the March was a huge success for the traders.

On the way back we were listening to Radio WM – a station that we now love dearly! and were shocked to the core to hear that Danny Kelly, Radio WM presenter felt that we couldn’t get our chanting going!! As seasoned traders, we had to put the record straight…

The video gets cut short and should finish with ‘ what the council haven’t been able to do in 5!’  I think that you know what she’s talking about!

On behalf of all the traders we would like to say a big thank you to everybody who helped make today a big success and a whole lot of fun!!!!



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