Green light for plan to improve performance of borough's markets

Roman Road Market... even Sarturday trading is bleak. Picture: Mike Brooke

Roman Road market is at risk of "irreversible decline", the council's plan said - Credit: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets cabinet members voted to adopt the council's improvement plan for the borough's markets.

The document aims to give the ten authority-run street markets a boost in "performance and competitiveness" and runs up to 2027.

A report to cabinet on March 9 said the market service was expected to lose £300,000 in the 2021-22 financial year caused by the impact of Covid-19 and a fall in traders at some locations.

The markets in the plan are Bethnal Green, Brick Lane (including Sclater Street), Chrisp Street, Columbia Road, Goulston Street, Petticoat Lane, Roman Road, Roman Road Square/Globe Town, Watney Market and Whitechapel.

Mayor John Biggs told the meeting: "Markets are part of our historic bedrock of our economy but they have struggled with Covid and obviously had to adapt with changing local economic conditions."

A survey was carried out by the council last year, which had more than 1,000 responses.

Two thirds of shoppers said special events such as festivals would entice more people to the markets, while 57pc wanted more options to pay contactless and around a third wanted more community stalls.

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Markets are part of Tower Hamlets' "historic bedrock", according to mayor John Biggs - Credit: Mike Brooke

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Around 160 traders responded, with 80pc of traders on Sundays at Petticoat Lane and 53pc of Roman Road traders feeling "unhopeful or very unhopeful" about the future.

The improvement plan said change was more urgent for these markets, which it said are "at risk of irreversible decline".

Specific action plans have been created for each market but wider-ranging proposals include creating a programme to attract start-up businesses and residents to market trading.

The council has also proposed a trader handbook "to raise standards and improve the experience for customers", developing online platforms for the markets and improved facilities for traders.

The plan also said Petticoat Lane, Chrisp Street, Roman Road and Roman Road Square "would all benefit from programmes activity to create more reasons to visit".

The proposals were approved by cabinet members on March 9.