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What the Council really wants to do to the Market

August 3, 2011

In our last post, we brought the news that the Council’s long awaited “strategy” for investing in Kirkgate Market has been unveiled. Only it wasn’t a strategy for investment, it was a strategy for how to get rid of 100s of traders by massively reducing the size of the Market and making it more “upmarket”. Here it is  from the horses’ mouths, exactly what the Council thinks about the future of the Market.

Councillor Gerry Harper, whose official role is “Market champion” , said the following on BBC Radio Leeds on 27th July around 5.30pm on the Andrew Edwards show.

Personally i think it is too big [the Market], if it was up to me I’d make it slightly smaller, i think the old sheds which were built after the fire I think we should take some of them down.

But I think overall it would make it more effective, more concise and  possibly one of the other options if we knocked down the bottom then we build a car park there next door to it.

Note: as there are only two halls or sheds built after the fire, the 1976 and the 1981, the “some” can only mean both.  The recent “strategy” that was presented at Executive Board argued that repairing these two halls would be too expensive (although as far as we can see the figures don’t add up) so the proposal seems to be to demolish them. Looking at the map of the Market below one can clearly see that “knocking down” the 1976/1981 halls would mean reducing the size of the Market by more than half and displacing about half of the traders at the moment.

Councillor Mark Dobson (ex-Market “champion”) is quoted on the YEP saying:

The question is, is it going to survive in its present form? I would suggest perhaps not

a Report by council officers giving the “evidence base” for the Market strategy asks (You can find it  here Towards a Strategy for Kirkgate Market, page 22).

The question has to be asked whether Kirkgate Market is actually the best place for people on low incomes to shop. Would low income families be better served through the discount and value sector ?

We think that the quotes speak for themselves

11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2011 11:18 pm

    leeds city market is the best place in town, we should think how to make it batter not how to make it smaller.
    if councillors have enough money to shop at waitrose then they should go there but many people shops in market,eats there because it’s the best option in the city, and council should consider that before make any decision.

  2. August 4, 2011 3:46 pm

    Honestly they dont get it do they – the market makes a profit of at least a MILLION a year. Who in their right mind would make it smaller – it is in a prime position, loads of space available and it provides affordable food and other items for the Leeds Community. Add in its potential as a tourist attraction and presto we have a thriving business.

    Only a fool would want to reduce its size – but it seems we have 99 of those in Civic Hall, plus the cronies who work for them

  3. Peace permalink
    August 4, 2011 7:45 pm

    I don’t agree that the market needs to be made smaller – especially during an economic downturn. What is the occupancy rate in comparison to the rest of the city centre? It’s certainly better than the Corn Exchange or The Core!

    What I believe would be beneficial is to make the size adaptable. In the good times extra stalls could be accomodated. In the worst of times the market should easily be reduced in size with space made for other activiities eg live performance etc.

    When the council were planning to redevelop the market 3 years ago it stated that the market would have to reduce in size to accomodate the T-bus. Is this what the council are really alluding to? If so the planned reduction was relatively small.

    I agree with LCC that the market needs to accomodate the interest of the whole of Leeds but I’m disappointed their commitment to it being a source of cheap goods has been dropped.

  4. August 5, 2011 9:42 am

    Thinking the new Eastgate development will impact on the market is bizarre: unless they sell bargain meat and veg and cheap bags and anoraks and phone batteries for a pound, they won’t compete. People RELY on the cheap clothes and stuff which might seem like tat to posh Leeds students and execs, but it’s not, it’s just normal, good value stuff normal people buy.

    And if the market was dead, or had loads of empty units, I could understand the council’s concerns, but it’s BUSY! ALL THE TIME! No stall sits vacant for more than a few days. The Market is the best shopping location in Leeds. And a lot of the posh stuff around the city relies on their produce too. That’s why you can buy fresh basil (italian or greek) by the kilo.

    Leeds micro businesses and new startups, run and owned by locals, serving the community. Surely the times have come back around to this? To say it needs to change to keep up with the times is simply wrong – the times have already changed to keep up with The Market! These are the things hip entrepreneurs rave about these days: shopping for quality produce, with known provenance, from a person who actually knows your name.

    This has to be stopped.

  5. Becky Moore permalink
    August 24, 2011 10:34 am

    Perhaps Sarah’s observation that it is in “prime position” gives us a clue to LCCs thinking – after all, Leeds city centre must be due for another shopping centre with empty units and more branches of the same old high street chains soon? And where better than the bottom of Eastgate alongside the new “developments”? The only thing LCC knows how to do is sell off the family silver and privatise vast tracts of the city centre. Not sure who’s pocket the proceeds go into, but it certainly isn’t the people of Leeds.

    Or perhaps I am too cynical? ……

  6. September 21, 2011 9:04 am

    See also this news about the Merrion Market. Leeds is soon going to be one enormous shopping mall, utterly devoid of history, culture and imperfections.

  7. September 21, 2011 9:30 am

    I ate in the recently “Gentrified” Corn Exchange recently – along with about three other people. The entire building was silent. If the Council wants to know how to scupper a building’s potential, they need only look up the street. Profits at the Corn Exchange have necessarily fallen, due to NO ONE GOING IN THERE.

    I am dis-heartened that our council tax is basically spent on facillitating back-handers for councillors, with complete dis-regard for it’s populace.

    Seriously – keep your damn hands off.

  8. October 4, 2011 9:27 am

    “The question has to be asked whether Kirkgate Market is actually the best place for people on low incomes to shop. Would low income families be better served through the discount and value sector ?”

    This quote really does say it all doesnt it. It says go away you people on low incomes, do not darken the doors fo the city center ever again, this is not a place for the likes of you. Mark Dobson needs taking into the fish market to recieve a big slap in the face with a large wet fish. Thats the sort of comment i would expect from a Conservative MP, not a Labour one. Where the hell are people onlow incomes expected to shop? I’m not on a low income but i love shopping at the markets, as the quality of the food on offer surpasses what the supermarkets can offer.


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