Leeds City Council unveil plans which will hijack Leeds Kirkgate Market and turn it into an exclusive “foodie destination” for the wealthy.
Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market are outraged as the council finally reveal their intentions to restructure and downsize the market in reports which are set to come before council this week (Wednesday 27th)
The Friends Group have been calling for the council to include traders and members of the public in producing a strategy for the market which will address the long term problems of neglect, extortionate rents and an appalling track record of managing the historical market.
Following a controversial six month enquiry into the market, the council’s Executive Board will be asked to approve two reports on Kirkgate Market which suggest shrinking the Market and handing its management over to an arms length organisation.
Megan Waugh from Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market said: “Decades of neglect and siphoning off money away means that the buildings are in need of repair but they now say there is no money. The council are using their own incompetence to justify cutting out the bits they don’t want and now want to wash their hands of any responsibility for it”
“We are facing 5-10 years of economic hardship, unemployment and public service cuts. More and more people will need access to low cost and good quality produce. More independent businesses will need support to start up or to survive.Councillors should be looking at a strategy on the best ways to support the market, the 2000 plus traders and the hundreds of thousands of people from all over Leeds who rely on it. Instead we’re looking at the blueprint of a few senior council officers who feel that Kirkgate Market and its shoppers are spoiling their idea of Leeds as a high end shopping destination.”
Calling on Councillors to reject these plans
Friends of Kirkgate are calling on Executive Board members to see these reports for what they are and reject them at (tomorrow’s – Wednesdays) meeting. They are warning that if they don’t, they will have given the green light to a process to yuppify the Market and take it from the people of Leeds.
Megan Waugh said: “Councillors should not be fooled by these documents. The plan set out in this strategy comes from a small number of senior council officers who have are aggressively pursuing their personal agenda to rid Kirkgate market of its existing shoppers and replace them with “foodie connoiseurs”. We’ve seen the same disasterous mistake being made with the corn exchange but it seems that officers will not admit their mistakes let alone learn from them.
This strategy is full of inaccuracies and misleading arguments. It has bypassed all democratic processes and any meaningful consultation. They don’t reflect any of the discussions that took place and have no support from people in Leeds or the market traders.
“These officers have no mandate and no evidence to be making the recommendations that are set out in these reports and we are asking councillors to reject their plans.”
Pledge to continue fight
Friends of Kirkgate Market will continue to fight these threats to the market’s future. We know that there is overwhelming support for the market in its current form and we are already seeking legal advice about the council’s equality duty as the Market provides such an essential resource for the poorest in our city from all cultural backgrounds.