The crisis facing Birmingham’s wholesale market could have a bigger impact on the city than the collapse of MG Rover in 2005, an MP has warned.
Shabana Mahmood (Lab Ladywood) said unless a deal was reached to safeguard the market, businesses could go to the wall and thousands would be forced to claim state benefits.
Her warning came as traders at the Digbeth site said the market faces closure unless Birmingham City Council reverses plans to axe a proposed move of the market to Witton.
They said that finding a new site and private investors looked like an impossibility and council bosses remained adamant the institution could not remain where it is.
And a council spokesman said the authority remained optimistic a new site could be found for the market, which is due to be demolished as part of the council’s Big City Plan.
Warning of the impact on the city if the market collapsed, Ms Mahmood said: “It would mean whole families out of work, the impact of which will be completely devastating.
“We need to talk about the financial viability of the market but equally the 1000s more claiming job seekers allowance and council tax benefit won’t help the city at all. It would be a bigger economic story for the city then the collapse of Rover.
“A lot of small or family owned businesses only make profit on the fruit and veg from the market, a lot of those businesses are going to go to the wall,
Ms Mahmood said the impact would also be felt by all as food prices rise because of the number of city shops and restaurants who rely on the wholesale market for their stock. “Prices of Chinese meals or curries in Birmingham is so competitive because they source their raw materials from the market.
“If they have to go to to other markets for double or treble the price the cost will be passed on to the consumer.”
In order to avoid the collapse Ms Mahmood called for traders, the public and council to come together to find a solution to the problem.
Istakhar Masood, a buyer for Washwood Heath-based Pak Supermarket, said: “Generally speaking it’s a massive concern. If the markets close a lot of other businesses will close down and a lot of people will be on the dole. I don’t think the council are looking at the bigger picture.”
Coun Paul Tilsley, deputy leader of the city council, has assured traders they will not be kicked off the Pershore Street site until other premises have been found. However he said the current site was no longer fit for purpose and the council would be unable to support a relocation with full or partial funding.