Jo has criticised calls by Councillor Charles Kennedy for the closure of Kirkintilloch Farmers’ Market.
Councillor Kennedy has claimed that the market is taking trade away from local businesses, however Jo cites evidence that such markets bring benefits to local economies.
A report on traditional markets published this summer by a Parliamentary Committee on Communities and Local Government found that farmers’ markets bring many benefits to town centres, including attracting more customers to local businesses in the area. The report cites a survey by the National Farmers’ Union which found that 80 % of neighbouring businesses saw a boost in trade following the establishment of a market nearby.
Other benefits of traditional markets include providing employment opportunities and start-up opportunities for new businesses, attracting tourists and reducing environmental impacts by eliminating excess packaging. Markets also provide an important service to people in lower incomes, with a survey by the Market Trader Federation showing that markets are on average 32% cheaper than supermarkets when it comes to fresh produce. The report recommended that farmers’ markets should be seen as complementary to local business, not simply as competitors.
Commenting, Jo said:
“Kirkintilloch Farmers’ Market is highly valued in the local area as a source of good quality fresh produce at a reasonable price. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that farmers’ markets can bring more businesses to town centres by increasing footfall in the surrounding area. There are also plenty of other social, health and economic benefits to having a farmers’ market in the area, which must not be overlooked.
“As the market organisers have pointed out, the market is only there for four hours a month. The market attracts shoppers to Kirkintilloch and provides choice for local consumers, and it would be ludicrous to close it down.”
- The report by the Communities and Local Government Committee, Market failure?: can the traditional market survive? can be found here