Flower markets appeal to be allowed to open in time for Mother's Day
Rachael Burford, Local Democracy Reporting Service
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Traders at London’s largest wholesale markets have warned they will not survive the pandemic unless they receive “urgent support” from the government.
New Spitalfields Market - which is set to move to Dagenham - New Covent Garden Market and Western International Market supply flowers and fresh food to the capital’s top restaurants and hotels, as well as work canteens and schools.
But trading is down 90 per cent on pre-Covid levels and stall holders say they have been denied the financial support offered to some of their customers in the hospitality industry.
Covent Garden Tenants Association (CGTA) called for financial support measures, including council business rate exemptions, to be extended to their markets, tax break allowances and grants for companies who had to dispose of fresh stock at short notice because of lockdown restrictions.
The CGTA also called for wholesale flower markets to be allowed to open for in-person trade in time for the Mother’s Day on March 14, which is the busiest date in the floristry calendar. If approved this could also see Columbia Road’s famous flower market reopen in time for the celebration.
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Association chairman Gary Marshall said: “The way the government has managed business rates relief due to Covid is quite simply unjust. Pubs, restaurants, hotels have received support and rightly so. They, like all the hospitality industry, are struggling.
“But the supermarkets, who are busier than ever with every trading week literally booming with record sales and profit, have all received business rates relief yet we have not.
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“We are the suppliers of all those pubs, restaurants and hotels and without further government support I fear that many wholesale businesses won’t be here to support the UK in re-opening it’s hospitality sector and to help London thrive once again.”
Traders said they hope to see new support measures announced in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spring budget next week.
Mr Marshall added: “Urgent action needs to be taken immediately before these largely family-run businesses collapse. For the sake of all horticultural wholesale markets in the UK I am calling on the government to do the right thing and level the playing field.”