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£12m kiss of life for Leeds Kirkgate Market or kiss of death?

March 10, 2013

For three years we’ve been campaigning to protect the market, to reverse decades of neglect, for greater investment in the market, greater involvement of traders in how the market is managed.
Three weeks ago we brought out a newsletter warning that the council would soon be making a decision which could see the market reduced in size and the private sector brought in.
Three days ago the council announced a £12.3m redevelopment plan and a new management board including traders.
So why aren’t we claiming a resounding victory and disbanding the campaign? and why has the response from many traders been one of shock and tears? We have already explained our concerns publicly.
Because as soon as you start to look behind the headlines and the spin, what you realise is that

The Devil Is In The Detail
Most of the detail of these wonderful sounding plans will not be available to the public or traders until after councillors make their decision on Wednesday 13th of March. Here you can read the report that will be discussed.
And what we have seen just leaves us with more questions than answers.

  • How many outdoor stalls will be lost in the redevelopment?
  • At the moment some of the traders who have been trading in the market for a long time still have the right to sell on the business that they and their families have been building up. Why are traders being told they will have to give up this ‘right of assignment’ – their pension, if they have to move their stall to a different area of the market.
  • How many Section 25 eviction notices will be served on traders if councillors “agree in principle” to these plans?
  • How many of the existing traders in the 1976 hall could be relocated elsewhere in the market? How many of these would be paying more rent and service charge than they are now?
  • Yes, the council are proposing (for now) to set up a management board with trader representatives. BUT this board won’t have a chance to look through the detail of this redevelopment proposal and make recommendations to councillors. In fact – the council are already dictating the terms of the board, telling a body of independent, intelligent and experienced business men and women exactly how they should be represented on the board. Democracy, openness and involvement are really not this council’s strong point.
  • Rents are VERY likely to go up even higher once the redevelopment is complete, and those traders and their existing customers are going to be driven out – and replaced with a different kind of daily market designed to be more attractive to Eastgate and John Lewis shoppers and less bother to the market management – any disagreements and you are out the next day!

Not exactly the change that we’ve been campaign for, in fact it’s exactly what we’ve been campaigning against.
So, to show your concerns write to your councillor with these questions. And turn up on wednesday to the Executive Board decision: Wednesday 13th of March at 1pm at the Civic Hall. We can make a difference if we let councillors know how much the people of Leeds care about their market.

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