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A change of direction for Leeds Market?

June 22, 2010

The new Labour administration in power in Leeds City Council today called for a revision of a report that rejected rent reductions at Leeds Kirkgate Market, signalling a change of direction in how the Market has been viewed by political leaders.

Leeds City Council Executive Board (the principal decision making body in the Council) discussed today an important report about the future of Leeds Kirkgate Market. The report (which you can read here) was written in response to demands put by Leeds Kirkgate Market Traders on the 21st of April to the Full Council. You can read Market Traders’ speech here (scroll to page 6).

On the 21st of April Market Traders called for:

  • immediate appointment of a Markets Manager (the previous manager “retired” in December 2009 – see links to new stories on this)
  • immediate rent reduction
  • Reduction in car parking chargesa(where most customers park)
  • immediate reinvestment (see figures about investment in the Market here)

As a response, council officers considered these issues and presented a report at the Executive Board meeting today practically rejecting all of these demands. Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market read the report in detail and found that many of the assertions made were inaccurate or inconsistent with information that we have obtained through discussions with traders and council officers. For example, the report mentions that the officers had made a rent comparison with other Markets but this contradicts information we got given by senior council officers. The report only mentions in passing rents at Nottingham Market. Given the importance of the issue of rents – by far the most serious for traders- we would have expected a fuller explanation of any rent comparison. The report also asserts that a rent reduction would not make a significant difference to the overall success of the Market, stating that a 25% rent reduction would only amount to £14 a week saving. These figures are misleading as they refer to one of the smallest stalls in the cheapest area of the Market and contrast markedly with traders’ own quoted savings of between £500 and £800 a month if a 25% reduction was to take place quoted in the Yorkshire Evening Post in December 2009 when this figure was first mentioned by the Council.

However one positive thing in the report is that it called for an independent rent review and confirmed that a Market Manager will be appointed.

You can read the whole response from Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market to the officers report here. Traders also sent their own detailed response which shared most points with ours.

At the Executive Board meeting, the Leader of the Council, Councillor Wakefield said that this report was limited and was not perfect and in fact noted that its accuracy had been challenged by traders and the public. He also acknowledged that the debate on rents was more complex than what it had been previously suggested and that more thought had to be given to it. Referring to the fact that there are going to be budget constraints in the future he said that with a bit of imagination the Market could be improved a lot. The Labour group has been in close contact with Traders in the past and councillors know that Traders are aware of the need to change some things in the market but importantly he also said that this was a two-way process. He therefore recommended that a new report is brought back to the Executive Board. We are looking forward to hearing more about this new report as many questions still remain answered.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mick Burchill permalink
    June 23, 2010 10:24 am

    As a representative of a long established trader with 2 stalls in Kirkgate Market I was appalled to read the ‘Response to Deputation by the National Market Traders Federation’.

    It appeared to me to be a report written not for its insight, innovation or educated argument incorporating facts and figures on which the reports ‘assumptions’ were made, but a report written because a reply had to be given.

    I would like to highlight just a few of many concerns I have as a representative of a market trader:

    1. Item 3.2.1
    A rent reduction of 25% based on a ‘sly’ calculation effectively means ‘only’ £14.00 per week to the trader. With 2 stalls this would equate to £1,456 per year. This is equivalent to approx 50% of the business support grants which is not applicable to all traders. However, it is a significant figure on its own even though the smallest stall was used to calculate the figure. Coupled with a Business Support Grant it would make a significant difference to traders.

    2. Item 4.1

    The report states that 10 million people visit the market a year.
    With 365 days a year minus 8 bank holidays, 52 Sundays and 52 half days (Wednesdays) (26 full days) leaves 279 trading days. 10,000,000 divided by 279 = 35,842 people per day. This would require a policing exercise equivalent to approximately the average home game attendance at Chelsea FC or Everton FC for the last season. Or, 4,480 people per hour in the market.

    It is not encouraging to see 37 traders leave and 39 join in the year without seeing the ratio of rents lost and attracted because many of the new joiners will have had exceptional terms not enjoyed nor offered to the leavers and many leavers have left owing many thousands of pounds.

    Will Jamie Oliver feed the poor starving traders.

    3. Item 6.1

    6.1 C. Follin is comparing a market trader to ex national
    conglomerates as Woolworths, Borders etc who went bust due to international banks amortising, packaging their assets into derivatives and swapping the derivatives for sub prime mortgage notes denominated in foreign currencies which were poorly hedged, without insurance and which proved to be worthless. He also asks us to remember when M&S introduced changing rooms? At 56 yrs of age I cannot remember being in an M&S store without changing rooms.

    Perhaps we should start taking Euro’s and pricing our products linked to LIBOR plus a margin with an electronic display showing the actual rates and a notice explaining that currency values fluctuate. We could also become FSA registered and start giving financial advice and perhaps selling mortgages and insurance policies.

    Are you seriously suggesting that the traditional market shopper can buy online. We have had a website for 2 years and have not sold one item from our online shop.

    Credit card payments attract a fee of some 7%. We have had them in our stalls for years and the amount of money taken is less than 1% of our turnover.

    We are working 6 days a week already and losing money. Why work seven and lose more?

    Can you imagine the smart set finishing a late lunch at Harvey Nichols on a Sunday, trotting down to the market for a Hayes Oyster or a pound of steak plus a quick heel and sole at Shoecare before ‘an evening out in the City Centre at the cinema, theatre or in bars or restaurants’?

    The report accuses Friends of Kirk Gate Market of negative publicity. This is a sinister comment aimed at minimising your work and is an affront against democracy.

    Keep up the good work


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  2. Council to hold inquiry over ‘missing Market strategy’ « Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market

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