Sorry for our long silence on the blog – there’s been lots going on and lots more to come over the next few months so this is a catch-all catch-up, hopefully without too many bits missing.
The council recently launched a consultation on the future of the market, boasting of an ‘independent’ group, NPS, they had brought in to do the job for them – this was hardly the case. NPS are a joint venture company with Leeds City Council that were set up earlier this year – transferring council staff over to work on this project. True, they have brought in a number of outside consultants to help with the job, but unfortunately none have experience in the social and regional economic aspects of markets. What is worse, the issue about how to manage and who will own the market in the future is not part of this consultation, this is being carried out solely by Leeds City Council in a disjointed manner and the public are not being consulted on this!
NPS carried out an eight week consultation – met with FOLKM and others and had a patchy presence in the market itself. With the council, they put out a pretty awful questionnaire that managed to combine not finding out anything at all, with collecting a checklist of what we think is wrong with the market.
Using Freedom of Information we have asked to see every single completed questionnaire to make sure that they stick to the facts about what people are saying. We have seen what the council have done with previous surveys – when less than 3% (if you like statistics then you’ll know this is the kind of number which means you don’t pay any attention to it) felt that they might consider visiting the market if it was open ‘later’. Since then every press release and every report they’ve written drags this up as if it’s living breathing proof that their ideas are right and the rest of us are wrong – or ‘statistically insignificant’ So we will be watching closely to see how the questionnaires that so many of you took the time to fill in are ‘interpreted’. We are also finding out who is making the decisions on the future management and ownership of the Market – and how they are deciding it.
Following a successful public meeting in April we met with some old and some new recruits and have decided to carry out our own survey to find out why people value the market so much and what they really think of the changes that the council is angling for (watch this space)
And after FOLKM managed to get quite a lot of good publicity for the campaign – Markets champion Gerry Harper had a fit and stamped his feet and got a front page story in the Yorkshire Evening Post about how he’s a saviour and nobody cares about how much the council cares about the market. We replied with this letter to the YEP.
We’ve been having some interesting conversations with writers, playwrights and artists about an exciting market project and there have been some discussions about putting together a recipe book with pictures and ingredients from/of market stalls. We are looking into why Leeds City Council has decided to move the Farmers Market away from Kirkgate Market into Briggate affecting the businesses of many city centre shops and resulting in a foodie and craft market that has nothing to do with farmers.
Please get in touch if you are interested in helping out in any way – we’ve also got a stall at Unity Day this weekend (Saturday July 7th) so come along and have a chat about how you can support the market and support the campaign.