Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Ridley Road market plans - make your views known

The Council is consulting the public on how to spend over £1million on improving Ridley Road Market. Three options have been offered - the third option being the one developed in consultation with the Ridley Road traders themselves. You can see the plans here and you have until 16th October to make your views known via email to

This latest round of consultation is part of a lengthy process which began with the Council obtaining a consultants' report back in 2007. Their recommendations covered most of the issues which are now part of the Council's consultation.

The consultants noted that traders are charged £430,000 a year for waste management but found "the worst market environment we have ever experienced in over 30 years".

The consultants' recommendations included a profit-led approach to market management so that the Council could obtain income by increasing the charges trader's pay for licensing, storage, electricity and parking. Ridley Market is presently the "Home of the Bargain" and, for many, a vital source of affordable goods and fresh produce. Increased charges to traders would inevitably lead to higher prices for customers. The consultants also suggested cashing in on Council assets, particularly the market storage land in Birkbeck Road, by identifying "potential disposal opportunities... of land for residential development".

Ridley Road's market traders are at the hub of Dalston's retail diversity, and its vitality, so why have they had so much grief? One of the first of the consultants' recommendations to be implemented was a crack down on traders by a restructured Council enforcement team. Since 2007 OPEN has reported on the prosecutions of traders (which were later declared by government to be"not in the public interest") rumours of a Council agenda to redevelop some of the market's land (strongly denied by Hackney's Mayor Pipe), electricity supplies to traders stalls cut off since May 2007, the sudden closure of the traders' market store and traders' appeals against revocation of their licences.

Larry Julian, Chair of the RRMTA, talks about the improvement plans

The Ridley Road Market Traders Association (RRMTA) has been consulted and it supports many of the Council's improvement proposals - refurbished lighting and electricity supplies, road and pavement upgrades, better publicity and gateway signage, improved waste collection and recycling and equal size but larger stalls. The RRMTA particularly favours improving the St Marks (east) end of Ridley Road market, part of which is on private land, and encouraging people to shop along its entire length.

But the Options the Council present make no express mention of refurbishing the market's store that was closed last year (although some work is going on there presently), or the storage yard for traders barrows, which are both in Birkbeck Road. When you look at the Council's proposals you'll see it is pushing to do away with barrows in favour of uniform stall types - flat pack stalls to be set up and dismantled daily (by someone) and stored (somewhere) off site - to "improve the look of the market". Nothing to do then with the consultant's recommendation that doing away with the barrows would "leave a considerable piece of land available along Birkbeck Road. LBH may wish to give consideration to alternative use of this area of land possibly for Residential Development"

Ridley Road Market - the home of the bargain
Neneh Cherry and Andi Oliver buy some bunches of callaloo. It's the home of the bargain - but how do we keep it that way?

1 comment:

  1. Street markets are delicate things, even thriving ones like Ridley Road. Hackney Council has been very successful in killing off our street markets over the years, generally by planning them out of existence, withdrawing management etc. The sustainable agenda means that street markets should be encouraged and some places where former markets existed such as Chatsworth Road are seeking to revive a market. Any changes to Ridley Road should by drawn up by a group of traders and shoppers and be limited to what is NECESSARY or DESIRABLE to meet their needs. Therefore no fancy paving - only changes if needed to improve safely of shopping, cater better for those of poor mobility etc. Council officers do not generally understand commercial needs and their ideas tend to be focussed on what they know about. Thus collossal amounts of regen monies have been wasted around the country on new surfacing - which is usually more expensive to maintain - and lighting.


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