Queen’s Market, in the London Borough of Newham, offers a number of contrasts to our two other case studies. The large market comprises 168 pitches, 10-20 kiosks and 78 perimeter shops. The vacancy rate on pitches is approximately 30%, with the empty pitches let to casual traders. Newham’s markets generate an income of £1.1m of which 80% comes from Queen’s Market. We are in the process of clarifying whether the market runs at a deficit or generates a surplus; there appears to be some disagreement locally between the market management and the Friends of Queen’s Market campaign group about this.
The market provides quality, affordable and specialist fresh fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, groceries, fabric and many other commodities and services, which attract shoppers to the market and the wider area. Whilst there are no recent data regarding the market’s customer demographics, as at Bury and Grainger Market it is estimated that 70% of shoppers are female. White British and European shoppers only make up approximately 20% of the customer base for this ethnically diverse market. African and Afro-Caribbean shoppers are estimated to make up another 20% whilst the remaining 60% are of Asian origin. Queen’s Market is widely regarded as a working-class family market with regular customers.
Pitches are operated under the London Local Authority Act by the Markets Service within Public Space Delivery, Community & Environment Directorate of Newham Council. Kiosks and shops are managed separately by Newham Council’s Property Services Team. The roof, car park and lighting are also managed separately, in this case by the Council’s highways and cark parking sections. The range of different entities involved, combined with the constraints of the London Local Authority Act, raises significant challenges for effective market management.
In 2006 the threat of demolition and redevelopment mobilised market users, traders and the wider community, and generated evidence about the market’s unique economic and social value, in terms of its ethnic mix of people and produce, opportunities for entrepreneurship, employment density, social space and access to healthy and affordable food. This led to Queen’s Market being registered as an Asset of Community Value in recognition of its contributions to social inclusion, social cohesion and well-being. Although the immediate threat is no longer present, Friends of Queens Market continues to meet regularly and engage with market management, traders, local councillors and others. The market is part of a larger site listed for redevelopment in Newham’s local plan and a feasibility study is underway.
Queen’s market traders do not have a formal committee but do hold meetings, communicate through a WhatsApp group, recognise several informal leaders and participate in Friends of Queen’s Market. Concerns at present include issues around basic maintenance, cleaning and security; increased car parking fees; large rent increases on kiosks and shops; and a perceived lack of transparency and accountability in the running of the market. The election of a new Mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, in 2018 has already improved relationships between market management and the wider council and traders and campaigners. We look forward to continuing our discussions with all parties, and exploring how our research can contribute to debates about the future of the market.
The Community Value of Queen's Market
We presented these emerging findings to key stakeholders on 13th February 2020