Decision time approaches: the future of the wholesale markets is scheduled to be determined in the new year. Last January Councillor John Clancy said in the council chamber:

“I think these are the kind of local micro-businesses we should be support. I am sick and tired of large retail development and enterprise zones, lining up large multinational businesses from outside the city.”

Paul Dale reminds us however, that though stallholders are campaigning to stay in the city centre, the value of the Digbeth site for redevelopment is immense.

The Bull Ring retail market traders have claimed that moving the Wholesale Markets away from Birmingham city centre will amount to a ‘food tax’ on the city’s poorest, as their cheap fruit, veg, meat and fish prices would soar with the added cost of transporting produce if the suppliers are moved from the Pershore Street Wholesale Markets.

Bernice Ellis of the Open Market Association explains: “We serve low income people, they come to us for the low prices. People will get on a bus to come to us because the price of food is so much lower than anywhere else. That is a direct result of the proximity and the relationship we have with the wholesale markets. We shift large amounts with low profit margins.”

In March, BBC News reported that David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, was to ‘spearhead’ an inquiry into the causes of poverty in Birmingham. By November, the council’s Newsroom relegated the ugly word ‘poverty‘ and announced the findings of ‘Birmingham’s social inclusion process’. The seven recommendations were of an abstract nature.

OB adds a practical eighth recommendation: that no action be taken by the city council that would increase the prices  of inexpensive fresh food to the poorest in the city.