Traders in Tower Hamlets question national campaign

Pic: Clare Boylan

Love Your Local Market runs from May 15–29. Pic: Clare Boylan

This week marks the launch of, Love Your Local Market, a national campaign involving more than 300 markets.

The project was set up by the National Association of British Market Authorities  to boost local street markets, but some traders are questioning whether it will bring real benefits.

The initiative aims to attract new shoppers and help start-ups and enterprises by offering them a market stall for only £10 per day.

As part of the campaign Tower Hamlets, which is famous for its many street markets, is trying to support its traders and encourage more people to shop local.

One of the markets that forms part of the campaign is the Roman Road Market in Bow, once a focal point for socialising and shopping in the East End.

During recent years, the market has decreased in size and popularity, despite the building of the nearby Olympic Park. As a response to this decline a local residents group, The Roman Town Team, has been set up.

Paula Hirst, coordinator of the group, says: “[we] are trying to restore Roman Road back to what town centres used to be which wasn’t just where to shop but somewhere to go, to hang out to meet new people and spend a little bit of time and enjoy yourself.”

The market has also been featured recently on the retail expert Mary Portas’ BBC2 programme Mary Queen of Shops.

The market was made focus of the show because of its recent failure to attract new shoppers and traders to the area. Portas suggested the introduction of hot food stalls and the creation of “anchor” attractions at the two ends of Roman Road to help boost business for all of the shops and traders.

Local business owner Helen Fischer says she was attracted to set up in this part of London because the rents are low but also because she recognised that there was a sense of community in the area.

However, Fischer is not impressed with the portraying of Roman Road in the BBC programme: “I don’t think the programme addressed anything to do with how the technical issues like business rates and parking and all those things that physical business comment on quite a lot.”

Another market that is participating in Love Your Local Market fornight is Petticoat Lane Market in the city’s East End. Local trader, Ahmed Hassan, agrees that markets in Tower Hamlets need to change. However he is unsure as to how the campaign would help this and argues that new goods and advertising is the only way it would attract new customers.

Shakir, another local trader, is worried that Love Your Local Market would lead to more competition rather than more shoppers: “[Petticoat Lane Market] have stop taking anymore traders at present time, because we are not gonna make any money.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said: “Love Your Local Market fortnight is a really exciting opportunity for the borough. For any local resident who’s dreamt of starting a business, now is the time to try it and take advantage of the special £10 trader rate on offer.”

The follwing markets are involved in the campagain that runs from May 15 to 29:

·        Chrisp Street (Monday to Saturday)

·        Roman Road (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday)

·        Roman Road Square (Monday to Saturday)

·        Watney Street (Monday to Saturday)

·        Petticoat Lane (Monday to Friday and Sunday)

·        Brick Lane, Cheshire Street and Sclater Street (Sunday)

If you would like to participate, or more information, contact Market Services on 020 7364 1717 / 1706 or email them at

Reporting by Clare Boylan, Evy Samuelsson and Julie Thing

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