Bolton Council’s market team has been named the best in the UK.
They were handed the award for Market Team of the year by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA).
The judges gave the award for innovative projects the team runs to encourage healthier lifestyles and the work done to boost visitors to Bolton. The results were announced at NABMA’s annual conference in Harrogate last week.
The team operates Bolton Market, on Ashburner Street, and markets in Farnworth, Horwich and Westhoughton.
They work with NHS Bolton’s community nutritionist and others such as celebrity chef Tom Bridge to use Bolton Market’s in-house cookery demonstration kitchen to encourage healthy eating. The chefs cook in the kitchen with fresh market produce to encourage people to eat their five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables.
Bolton Market, which has also won a string of awards, has a growing reputation as the premier food market in the North West. It has been endorsed by celebrity chefs The Hairy Bikers; Thomasina Miers and BBC Fusion chef Aazam Ahmad.
Figures show increased footfall at the market, improved occupancy and a boost in tourism visits over recent years. The number of coach bookings at Bolton Market increased from 122 in 2008 to almost 250 in 2010.
Westhoughton Market is also undergoing a major revival and developing a niche for quirky stalls like vintage clothes traders.
The team is also heavily involved in attracting traders to major events, such as the Food and Drink Festival. This year the festival attracted a record 94,000 visitors – double the 50,000 that visited in 2009.
Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Environmental Services, Councillor Akhtar Zaman, said: “The team really deserves this award for all the hard work they put into the markets and I’m really pleased that this has been acknowledged. One of our aims is to try and encourage our residents to live healthier lifestyles and eat healthier. The team play a big part in this with the work they do with NHS Bolton. They also play an important role in events like the Food and Drink Festival, which brings thousands of visitors into the town.”
Chief executive of NABMA, Graham Wilson, added: “Bolton is a worthy winner of Market Team of the Year. They have undertaken a number of initiatives around health lifestyle, coach visits have increased and the Bolton team is also part of the team that organises the highly successful Bolton Food and Drink Festival.”
More than 2.5 million people visit Bolton Market annually, which sells everything from fish to fabric, gifts and plants.
The indoor and outdoor market is open Tuesday and Thursday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm. The car boot market is open Sunday, 7.30am to 2pm.