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Leeds City Council unveil plans which will hijack Leeds Kirkgate Market and turn it into an exclusive “foodie destination” for the wealthy.

July 26, 2011
Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market response to the Market Strategy being presented at council tomorrow (Wednesday 27th)
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.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen Donnelly permalink
    July 26, 2011 3:41 pm

    I’m just disgusted. There are so few places to get fruit and veg that haven’t been through the whole sordid business tied up with supermarket food production. The market supports local producers – is largely low in carbon footprint and sells good fresh produce at a price even those with the tightest purse strings can afford. They can not be allowed to get away with this!!!!!

  2. nat permalink
    July 27, 2011 9:29 am

    What next? How can we organise and fight back?

    • nat permalink
      August 24, 2011 4:29 pm

      i am ill and cannot attend tonight’s meeting.
      please can somebody fill me in afterwards?
      when is the next meeting?
      i want to make a flyer and hand some out so more people know about the market being in danger…thoughts on that?

  3. July 27, 2011 7:17 pm

    The Source is a project of Shelf Life Ltd. We are an independent, private company and receive no funding or grants.

    It is our clear and stated objective to help make Leeds Kirkgate Market famous for food, so that even more people can enjoy the diversity and quality of food already on offer there, as well as to introduce new artisan products and local businesses to the market.

    It is expressly not our intention to attempt to change the character of Kirkgate Market in any way, turn it into some kind of exclusive ‘foodie destination’ or the ‘Borough Market of the North’ and we reject any implication that we are part of any plan to gentrify it.

    To date The Source has helped promote many of the existing food traders through our stall, web site, twitter feed, and ongoing campaigns. We have also introduced the fiercely independent Sunshine Bakery, a start-up Caribbean street-food business, and brought local products like Pudsey Pickles, Yellison Farm Goats Cheese, Pepped-up Ketchup and Yorkshire Chorizo from Paganum Produce into the market.

    The Source gives ‘new’ traders an opportunity to experience Leeds Kirkgate Market from a traders perspective, in the hope that they may go on to fill some of the vacancies that exist.

    We believe – and have proved time after time at The Source – that everyone buys and enjoys great, artisan, local, fresh food. Quality and value can and must co-exist in the market if it is to continue its tradition.

    Nick Copland and Rebecca Roberts

  4. Fran Coard permalink
    July 28, 2011 8:40 am

    Leave the market alone! If you want a foodie destination why dont you convert the Merrion one where noone actually goes EVER!

  5. Ian Oliver permalink
    July 28, 2011 8:53 am

    There was less tumbleweed in the Corn Exchange last time I went, but it still can’t match the vibrancy of Kirkgate Market. Oh, and let’s have less of this credit card nonsense. Some of the butchers and fishmonger do take cards already, but there are loads of cash points around, and cash is faster.

  6. July 29, 2011 7:06 am

    As far as I can see this all part of a more or less deliberate policy of economic cleansing in Leeds, which drives the poor from the city centre and encourages the rich. By replacing people who create little GVA with those who can create more we achieve economic development by further exacerbating the situation for long term residents.

    I have written a little more here if you are interested


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