Ladywood MP, Shabana Mahmood, warns that the crisis facing Birmingham’s wholesale market could have a bigger impact on the city than the collapse of MG Rover in 2005. She added that unless a deal was reached to safeguard the market, businesses could go to the wall and thousands would be forced to claim state benefits.


A young man, of around 25 years, approached Carol and asked her what was going on. He works in the Wholesale Market and is worried for his future and the future of his workmates. He feels that the jobs aren’t out there for unskilled, unqualified men of his age and the markets were a lifeline for him and his family to be ensured an income.

Lin from Yardley Wood advises the council: “The markets draw in custom to the Bullring shopping centre. People go to the markets and then move on to the other shops. Birmingham will not be Birmingham if the Bull Ring markets go.

Bernice Ellis, co-chairwoman of the Bull Ring Traders’ Association, said: “There has been a market here for 1,200 years and we believe the council wants us out of the way now. The markets are a thriving hub for working class people, the elderly, those who don’t use credit cards, can’t drive to out-of-town superstores, want fresh produce, or specialist ethnic fruit and veg. The suppliers and the customers will all lose out.

Proposed solutions 

The founder and CE of a company which buys produce from the markets said that councils don’t have the expertise to manage the site well or to negotiate a sale which would realise the full value of the site.

As a number of units are no longer in use, it would be possible to rebuild on a smaller scale or redesign and renovate the existing accommodation, reducing the acreage and freeing acres for a redevelopment project, without adversely affecting the wholesale and retail traders.

Alan Clawley, planner, technical consultant, writes: “perhaps with some imagination, those parts of the Wholesale market that support the Open Market and other retailers could be kept going and the rest of the building re-populated by independent enterprises of the kind that the city so badly needs and which the council should be actively supporting.

For more opinions and reactions, go to Friends of The Bull Ring Markets set up by Carol Byrne, love and organic fruit and veg: LOVE stall.