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New Covent Garden Market

Market traders celebrate 40 years at Nine Elms

New Covent Garden Market tenants past and present turned out in force on Saturday to mark the 40th anniversary of the market’s move to Nine Elms.

More than 550 guests were at the market’s annual dinner and dance, held at a packed Westminster Park Plaza. Traders were joined by customers and suppliers and a large number of market “old boys”, brought together by former Covent Garden Tenants Association chairman Philip Emanuel.

Current CGTA chairman Gary Marshall addressed the packed room, first thanking everyone for being part of what was a record attendance at the event. “No other market in the country can compare,” he said. “We are - as Ali would say - the greatest; a boast we backed up again by being named the best wholesale market in the country for 2014.

Cheques for £20,000 were presented to the market’s chosen charities, the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust and Trinity Hospice, and generous diners and companies have already added another hefty sum to the £400,000 raised for the two worthy causes since Marshall became chair 10 years ago.

There was a particularly poignant moment during the speech, when the lifetime achievement award was given to the late Jamie Hulse, who sadly died earlier this year. Jamie’s son Beau picked up the award and gave an extremely moving acceptance speech. Marshall added: “[Jamie was] a hard worker, fast learner, skilled and proper trader, with whom business flowed in a fair and honest manner, generating a deserved mutual respect from clients and co-workers alike. He was, and will remain, a true Covent Garden man who loved the market and was a prominent character and front-runner capable of standing up for what he believed to be right, but also having the strength and integrity to accept when he was wrong.

In the week when planning permission was granted for the redevelopment plans for the market, against the wishes of the market’s tenant community, Marshall again denounced the plans, but highlighted the work that the CGTA has put in over the last eight years to bring value to its members and the market in general. “We were told that our new “21st century” market units would be built out of breeze-block walls and that you would receive shell and core - basically nothing,” he told tenants in the room. “You were expected to pay for any upgrade or fit out.

“Well, as you would expect, your fantastic committed executive and I did not accept this, especially your deputy chairman Jason Tanner, and I am pleased to announce that our hard work and tenacity is starting to pay off. The new units will be built with insulated white walling, insulated doors, food-grade resin floors and insulated roof panels and this will save us collectively in excess of £10 million,” he said.

“But we are not finished. It is our opinion that there should be no cost of move to any tenant and that you should all receive like for like replacement of your faciltiies. We have challenged and we will continue to challenge government, local council, the CGMA and the developers until we get a fair and transparent deal.”

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