Eviction rumours at the Market ahead of key decision of its future
Less than a month ahead of the Council’s decision on the future of Kirkgate Market we are hearing rumours of evictions of market traders. On the 13th of March, Leeds Executive Board (the highest decision making body in the city) will consider options for the redevelopment of Kirkgate Market.
For months now a team of private consultants has been working with the council on how the Market should be redeveloped. What we know now is that the several options on the table go from maintenance investment of £4m to complete redevelopment with a £49m investment which would for sure involve private investors.
What we don’t know is what these options actually mean for how the market will look like, who will be affected and how. And more specifically if they will involve traders being evicted to remodel and demolish parts of the market. Despite our requests we have been unable to find out more information about the possible options that are being discussed and these will only be published one week before the decision day. However from previous phases of the public consultation we know that the council is considering rebuilding the butchers row area or reorganising the 1975 and 1981 halls. This could mean evicting traders that the council feels do not meet the requirements of a shiny new market. But how will it be decided who is evicted?, what will be the criteria?
Investment in the market is badly needed but we need to consider what “redevelopment” actually means. Changes to be decided next month could be the start of a “social redevelopment” where the council displaces and evicts certain traders that don’t conform their image of a “new” market. This will then of course mean displacement of customers who won’t be able to afford the prices of the new more “upmarket” traders.
Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market will be following closely the events in the next few weeks and publishing any information that we get hold of before the Executive Board meeting on the 13th of March. Keep checking our blog as we will need to mobilise as many people as possible.