The Covent Garden Tenants’
Association (CGTA), which represents wholesalers based in the market, has begun
a legal appeal at the High Court to prevent the redevelopment of New Covent
Garden Market, which has been ongoing for some time.
Speaking to reporters, CGTA
chairman Gary Marshall, who is also managing director of wholesaler Bevington
Salads, said that the relationship between the market and its traders was at an
CGTA, which claims to
represent around 90 per cent of the traders at New Covent Garden, said the move
came as a last resort due to the “unwillingness” of the Covent Garden Market
Authority (CGMA) and its development partners Vinci UK and St. Modwen
(VSM) to “cooperate, consult and disclose information.” A particular
flash-point has been the Southern Vehicle Car Park, which was closed off at the
start of October; something which CGTA says has severely disrupted trading
activity in the market as customers have been unable to park.
Gary Marshall said, “What
they are considering building is simply not fit for purpose. Customers are
openly writing to us to say they might have to go elsewhere because they can’t
operate effectively from NCGM,” revealed Marshall. “If traders at NCGM can’t do
the job, someone from New Spitalfields or Western will. It’s put business
continuity at great risk.”
GGMA CEO Daniel Tomkinson
said, “We regret that some of our valued tenants have seen fit to take this
action, and we hope to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. In the
meantime, we will continue work on the much-needed development of the Fruit and
Birmingham’s new integrated wholesale market, which is one of the largest in Europe, has been officially opened at a launch event on Friday 5 October.
The event was billed as a celebration of the market’s 850-year history, and saw traders joined in the new environment by a steel band, Chinese lion dance and television crew. Mark Tate, chairman of the Birmingham Wholesale Fresh Produce Association, told those at the event: “I’d like to thank all the traders who supported my decisions throughout the process, our belief has driven us to this magnificent building today. I have a request that goes out to all the people of Birmingham and the Midlands, we need your support, to keep buying our fruit and vegetables, and meat and fish from the wholesale market.”
Chris Taplee, of wholesaler Mack Birmingham, commented, “This place is magnificent, I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’m now I’m looking forward to the next 30. Trade has picked up, we’re getting people from Wolverhampton now; someone from Liverpool came the other day. It’s the shot in the arm we needed.”
The new location on Nobel Way in Witton is how to almost 90 traders, including those selling meat poultry and fish as well as fresh produce, based around a large central covered avenue, together with warehouses, a cafe and management offices.
Most fruit imported into the UK comes from outside the European Union (60 per cent), whereas the EU is the main source of imported vegetables data shows.
Over the last three years total imports of fruit and veg have risen by 12 per cent. The biggest supplier of fruit to the UK is Spain at 679,523 tonnes of fresh fruit, followed by South Africa and Costa Rica with 346,359 and 303,221 tonnes respectively.
Spain is also the largest supplier of vegetables to the UK supplying 1.01 million tonnes, closely followed by The Netherlands at 744,239 tonnes. Between them these two horticultural powerhouses supply 64 per cent of UK vegetable imports. Tomatoes are one of the main imports, and while the volume of potatoes and carrots fell last year, legumes increased by 55 per cent.