Radcliffe Market Hall does things a little differently. Formed as a Community Benefit Society (CBS), they decide who trades in the market space and what is sold there, with the aim of connecting people to fresh and local food, spreading belief in the town of Radcliffe and creating change by acting sustainably and ethically.
The market hall used to be the meeting hub for its local people, but as shopping patterns changed and the council’s investment changed, the site suffered. Traders were forced to close, and the hall fell into disrepair. The market, which had been in operation since 1851 and based on the current site since 1937, was at risk of disappearing from Radcliffe forever.
The hall was refurbished by the council in 2014, but by 2016 the number of occupied stalls had halved, and the market’s future was still uncertain. That was until a group of residents banded together with the remaining stallholders to demonstrate to the council that they were better placed to run the market.
How did they do it?
They formed a CBS, ensuring that local people have a voice and that the market is accountable to the community into the future.
Following an invitation to tender and subsequent winning bid, Bury Council awarded the society a five-year management contract (with lease and extension options) which commenced in July 2018.
Now, the thriving market hall welcomes over 1,200 visitors a week. Of its 34 stalls, 32 are occupied with the remaining two used for storage. It has an exhibition and performance space used for showcasing and celebrating theatre, cinema and music, weekly events like Tai Chi and indoor bowls (attracting 120 people, two days a week over the winter), as well as monthly fine food and handmade events from across the wider North West region.
What is their social impact?
Radcliffe Market Hall has been instrumental in the regeneration of a town which, like many in the UK, has struggled to compete with city centres and online shopping. Traders pay less rent than they would on the high street, helping to ensure the future of independent businesses in Radcliffe.
Currently, the market employs 18 staff and engages with a further 25 volunteers including the board of 10. A new project working with NEETs (young people not in employment, education or training) commences in February with the aim of employing a further 6 people. The range of events and activities aims to provide something for everyone in the community, including an arts group that is specifically for those who are carers.
Apart from selling ethical wares, the market primarily functions as a hub for the community of Radcliffe. It aims to connect people to fresh and local food using the principles of the Slow Food Movement, promoting the enjoyment of good, tasty, clean and fair food that has been produced in a way that preserves biodiversity and sustainability.
The weekly schedule for the market’s activities and events aim to cater to the interests of everyone in the local community, including an art group specifically for those who are carers. It runs events to promote arts with kids and encourage new musical talent, supports the work of local charities by combining with them on events and provides a town centre meeting space and contact points for campaigns and fundraising.
Radcliffe Market Hall CBS is aiming to create local plots growing organic fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and honey, working with local farmers and suppliers to source everything as locally as possible.
The market hall is providing local jobs for local people and is paying them a Real Living Wage. It also supports young people by working with local colleges and schools to offer work experience, as well as supporting the next generation of young entrepreneurs with pursuing start-up businesses. By educating local people about diet and new foods and hosting a plethora of physical activities on a weekly basis, the market hall also works to help reduce health issues such as obesity and diabetes.
By working with local agencies and charities it is able to give targeted and discrete free tickets for food and events to disadvantaged families at seasonal events at such as Christmas and Halloween.
How is it community-led?
Radcliffe Market Hall CBS has an open membership, consisting of local residents and traders and the wider community who elect their board and engage with the development and future of the hall. In the future, the society hopes to stage a community share offer and create community catering initiatives with charities and organisations working with ex-service personnel, disabled people, the homeless and disadvantaged young people.