Workers co-op puts its stamp on Cottingham market

At Cottingham in East Yorkshire, the stall holders have been running their market since 1996. Of 27 traders, 20 have now joined Cottingham Market Traders Co-operative. Co-op treasurer...

At Cottingham in East Yorkshire, the stall holders have been running their market since 1996. Of 27 traders, 20 have now joined Cottingham Market Traders Co-operative.

Co-op treasurer John Dyson, who is also president elect of the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF), says markets have changed fundamentally over the years. “I started on the markets 54 years ago,” he says. “In those days there was a dedicated markets officer.

“These days it’s part of a portfolio which includes cemeteries, play parks and allotments. Officers who come into the role are automatically looking for promotion.”

He says the co-operative is working to develop Cottingham Market in its own way, by increasing the number of food stalls and introducing farmers market and vintage elements to the mix of stalls. The co-op also invites a different charity to hold a stall each week, at no charge.

Sandra Hammond and Ruth Marsden of St Mary the Virgin Church, Cottingham
Sandra Hammond and Ruth Marsden of St Mary the Virgin Church, Cottingham, which benefitted from a free stall at Cottingham market

The co-op works because the market is a close-knit community, Mr Dyson says. “We’re all friendly and we all get on. We can discuss problems and solve them together.”

Cottingham market was run privately by traders before constituting as a workers co-op. Trader and co-op member Barry Davison says: “The worst markets are privately owned ones because the people that own them want to make money for themselves, but a co-operative one isn’t profit making.”

(l-r) Traders Barry and Paul Davison
(l-r) Traders Barry and Paul Davison

Co-op chair and baked goods seller Andy Watts adds: “You’re working for the benefit of the market and not the individual.”

Secretary Lisa Gray, who runs the Little Cheese Pantry stall at Cottingham Market, says: “We need to encourage young people to come so the market can carry on. I’ve got lots of ideas.”

• Read more: Market traders join Co-operatives UK

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