The fruit and vegetable traders selling direct to the general public get their fresh produce from the nearby wholesale markets. As Alan Clawley recently wrote in The Birmingham Press:
“The Market is within walking distance of the wholesale markets . . . elsewhere the use of small vans is widespread and major retailers truck goods long distances from giant warehouses located at motorway junctions.
“Municipal wholesale markets like Birmingham’s are left to support thousands of smaller independent traders who run their businesses admirably well with the lowest possible overheads and with less adverse impact on the environment.”
2010: the proposed move to Witton
If the move to Witton went ahead, stall-holders told a Post journalist, they would be forced to buy lorries to fetch produce three miles from Witton, pay about £20,000 to get a operators’ licence and employ drivers.
Birmingham City Council would have to find a solution to the congestion caused by all the traders making the same journey to Witton first thing in the morning and at the outdoor market as lorries arrived back at 5am in the market to unload.
2011: Will the wholesale markets survive?
With the withdrawal of investors and the collapse of the Witton plan, fears are growing about the very survival of the wholesale markets.
Even more weighty points about traffic are being raised: if the wholesale market goes completely, traders will be forced to make six-hour round, invite up at Bristol, Manchester or London – adding to fuel costs, bringing more lorries to the city centre, raising prices and forcing stall holders out of business.
Social cleansing of the city centre?
Bernice Ellis, co-chairwoman of the Bull Ring Traders’ Association, said: “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 . . . Someone does not want us here. This is the first phase of the social cleansing of the city centre.”
A campaign is under way as the traders’ association, which represents about 130 stallholders, are inviting all retailers, market traders and customers to stand together with their colleagues in the wholesale market.
The public has rallied behind the campaign and more than 1,300 people have signed petitions.
The Birmingham Mail is campaigning
The Birmingham Mail is urging its readers to support the traders. Hundreds of people have already gone online at www.birminghammail.net to sign up to support the markets or voice their concerns for their future.