Last year the council, without warning, removed the seats from the outdoor market area, while there were posh new seats for shoppers in Dortmund Square, Briggate and so on.
Is this idiocy, or discrimination with malice?
Now the council, no doubt to flatter the needs of Victoria Gate developers Hammersons, have closed the only car park serving Kirkgate Market, causing the takings of market traders to slump by up to 40 per cent within two weeks.
No attempt at all was made to provide any sort of proper alternative.
Government Minister David Willetts has said that the Government wants to ‘revitalise high streets by making them more attractive, sustainable and locally relevant’.
This historic and vibrant market, Kirkgate Market, is at the heart and soul of our own high street’s sustainability – far more so, in my view, than any John Lewis superstore.
I therefore ask again, is this council acting with idiocy or blind malice?
Mike Harwood, Kirkstall
I was in Leeds market on three, if not four, separate occasions last month, and each time it was just as busy as I’ve known it to be.
The closure of the car park has in my opinion had little effect, judging by the number of shoppers I’ve observed.
Hundreds of buses pass very close to Leeds market each day and offer a far more convenient, not to mention cost effective, way of shopping there.
Plus, the railway station is only a five-minute walk away.
Why drive into the city centre when parking is so expensive and difficult to find? It’s a no-brainer if you ask me.
Nick Keer, Cottingley
IT’S easy to tell that Labour are in control of Leeds City Council, as their latest blunder puts the businesses of many Leeds market traders in jeopardy as takings drop by almost half.
For who in their right mind would close the main car park on which market customers depend, when there is so little alternative parking provision in Leeds without any contingency plan?
But common sense or business acumen are qualities sadly lacking in the dogmatic mindset of Labour, epitomised by them currently spending many thousands of pounds painting lamp posts which were already galvanized to stop them going rusty! God help this country if Labour get back in, we will really struggle then.
DS Boyes, Rodley
Editor’s Note: The council is now offering shoppers who spend £5 at Kirkgate Market a £2 discount on a two-hour stay at the nearby NCP car park on New York Street. A new collect-by-car point has also been set up on George Street alongside the market.
On Wednesday July 2nd Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market made an impassioned deputation speech to the full meeting of Leeds City Council, expressing our concerns around the development of the Eastgate Quarter and the proposed regeneration of the market.
One of the expressed aims of the Council is to reduce poverty in the city and FoLKM displayed a £5 bag of supermarket vegetables compared with a £5 big box of much larger quantities of the same vegetables obtained from the Market for the same amount of money.
FoLKM also expressed concerns about the lack of communication and information on the closure of the Union Street car park, and on how the market traders had lost 40% of their business due to people driving to out-of-town supermarkets instead.
So, thanks to the outcry by FoLKM and others, your fiver will not only get you twice the goodies you can buy at the supermarket but £2 off the parking charges as well.
Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market will be addressing all Leeds City Councillors on Wednesday 2nd of July at 1.30. This is an open meeting to the public so please come to support your Market. The meeting will be at the Civic Hall.
FOLKM will present a “community deputation” in front of the 99 Councillors to raise alarm over some very important issues:
- The negative impact of the construction work of the Victoria Gate shopping centre which is costing traders a lot of trade
- The importance of Kirkgate Market for everybody in Leeds but most importantly those in lower incomes
- Lack of consideration of equality and diversity issues in the future redevelopment plans for the Market
- Massive gulf between the picture painted by the management and the reality felt by traders on the ground. See an example here.
8 months ago, in November, FOLKM addressed all councillors but we don’t feel there has been any progress on the issues we raised and indeed things have got worse. This is the last chance to stop and think before the big disruption that the plans for the future of the Market will bring. The so called redevelopment plans will mean the end of many traders’ businesses. Many will be “permanently displaced” (Market managers’ own words) and a lot of them won’t survive the likely new higher rents and disruption from the Victoria Gate shopping centre construction. FOLKM has repeatedly said that we welcome well spent investment in the Market but the current mega plans are not shared by many traders or customers
You can read our speech from our last deputation here
Here is the information of the meeting. It will be item 4, around 1.30
See you there.
There have been various articles in the press announcing that Kirkgate Market has been awarded a £99,053 grant from the Small Business Research Initiative to develop a cutting-edge virtual reality omnichannel shopping experience based on computer gaming technology. According to the reports, online shoppers will be able to wander through a 3D model of the market, chatting to traders and ordering produce at the click of a mouse.
However, it turns out that the £99,053 will only pay for a feasibility study involving “up to 3 traders”.
Two months after the car park closed the management have at last responded to FoLKM’s concerns:
Apologies for the delayed response, I was under the impression that the query had been dealt with by colleagues in Planning as your query is around the operational arrangements with Hammerson/McAlpine, and had overlooked that it had been sent to us to respond.
I think the first thing to say is that we would disagree that the closure of George St car park is having a devastating impact on market trade. We speak to many traders each day, between us, and whilst it is certainly having an impact, and some businesses are feeling that more than others, many have seen very little impact, they tell us. Footfall was certainly down in April 2014 compared to April 2013 but comparisons with the city centre cameras during April showed exactly the same percentage drop, so it is difficult to attribute this to local influences (for example, last year’s figures could have been inflated by Trinity opening).
In the first week or so, customers were clearly confused as to where else to park and the situation was not helped by a delay in getting new loading arrangements implemented on George Street so that what are now loading bays were, for almost a month, taken up all day with cars parking for free (mostly traders’ vehicles). This new arrangement, converting what were a small number of parking bays into 20 minute loading bays throughout the day, was a measure we asked for in the TRO promoted by Hammerson for George Street, to assist not only traders with servicing but also customers, who can also use the facility to drop off and collect goods from the market within a 20 minute window. Hammerson were happy to include this in their TRO. It will take time for this to filter through to our customer base but we certainly see it as a positive measure. Previously, we had an arrangement with Parking Services that traders could load/unload on George St up to 10.30 am but the rest of the day, these spaces were taken up with parking, and traders wishing to service their premises either double parked or risked a ticket by parking on double yellow lines.
Also contained within the TRO is a restriction between 3.30 pm and 4.30 pm precluding vehicle access to George Street except for taxis. The purpose of this is to help deal with the problem of trader vehicles for the open market queuing on George Street and blocking customer servicing and emergency access, whilst waiting for the bollards to be removed to allow them onto the open market. The problem was further exacerbated by the road becoming narrower due to the hoarding line. This is in the early stages but seems to be working; again it will take time for this to percolate through to all George Street users.
We expect imminently to see three of the hoarding panels opposite to be displaying information about nearest alternative car parks. This will hopefully help customers who don’t come here frequently and so might still find themselves on George Street expecting to access a car park.
In addition, McAlpine have some informal arrangements in place to allow traders to use the area around the hoarding line for loading and unloading, wherever possible.
Going forward, we have requested and have now set up regular interface meetings with McAlpine so that we get as much advance intelligence as possible which we can either plan to offset, or, if that is simply not possible, that we can share with the traders giving them chance to make their own business decisions.
Of course, as you know, we are progressing our own development plans and therefore these interface meetings will become even more relevant once work starts on our own site.
Not what you asked but perhaps helpful to know that the Markets service has been very proactive in promoting information about the changes to car parking and making sure, for example, that dynamic signage and local signs for car parks for the market are correct, and have done extensive social media and press coverage around the alternatives. We also keep our traders informed of any changes and encourage them to pass this information on to their own customers.
And the market management have at last put up a sign directing motorists to all the other car parks in the city centre.
So now you know where to go.