One focussed on the interests of the 90%: 

On Friday 14th October traders from the Bull Ring Open Market held a public meeting to discuss the future of the markets and their historical, social, economic and cultural importance. 

Speakers included Carl Chinn, local historian, broadcaster and newspaper columnist and Michael Ward, a regeneration and public policy specialist. 

Carl gave a spell-binding and all-too-brief sketch of the role played by the ancient market in the development of Birmingham and Michael Ward added information about the retail markets operating in the UK, which employ nearly 100,000 people and generate over more than £125 million pounds per year for the market operators. 

Members of the public [seen on the right and left], local councillors, MPs and people from local businesses were invited to come and have their say. It was good to see a wide-ranging attendance at the meeting: right through from those under one year to a few over 70. 

Though the council was not represented, others attending included members of Birmingham Against the Cuts

MPs Gisela Stuart and Richard Burden conveyed the good wishes of Shabana Mahmood who could not attend because of a previous commitment. 

Friends of the Bull Ring Markets and many others ask: Can Birmingham really afford to lose these historic and economically vibrant markets in a time of economic hardship and high unemployment nationwide?

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The other event focussed on ‘fine dining’ – achievable by perhaps 10% of Birmingham’s residents 

A day earlier the church pews were removed to make way for  tables for the Birmingham Chefs Alliance Dinner run by Visit Birmingham, at £200 a head. It was reported that Michelin-starred chefs Luke Tipping of Simpsons, Glynn Purnell of Purnell’s, Richard Turner of Turner’s of Harborne, Aktar Islam of Lasan, Andy Waters of Edmunds and David Colcombe of Opus took part. 

Students from Birmingham’s leading universities assisted with food preparation and ‘plating’. 

Can the needs and interests of the 90% be catered for with the same gusto?

Yes they can – if decision-makers listen to the highly-rated local chef and restaurateur Glynn Purnell, who says that the markets are an essential part of the city’s character and inspired him to cook as a youngster. 

He understands the importance of the markets to people on medium to low incomes, because when he was a child his family was on a tight budget and it was important to be able to buy at a reasonable price. 

Glynn has called on the city council to reconsider their decision on the future of the wholesale markets and warned that the lives of many people with families and mortgages to pay would be ruined if the historic trading area was forced to close.

The traders and their customers deserve a well-redesigned market ‘makeover’. 

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