White Paper Whitewash
Members of FoLKM and market traders gathered at Leeds Civic Hall for the White Paper Debate put forward by Cllr Cohen (http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=2633) (Conservative) – looking at the following three aspects of the exec board decision:
– the involvement of market traders in the management decisions on the market
– ensuring retention of right of assignment
– and the poor evidence for any economic case put forward to the Exec Board
He also presented the results of a survey by FoLKM members that found that, of 94 market traders questioned, 76 had no confidence in the management, 10 had no opinion and a mere 8 were happy with the current crew.
It was countered by a white paper from Cllr Lewis (http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=221) (Labour) assuring the council that everything was fine and dandy, the market just needed to move with the times to become a more profitable and attractive institution, people were flocking from London to visit Harvey Nicks (Why? There’s a much larger one in London) and the footfall of the market had been increased by 7% by the opening of the Trinity Centre (ignoring the fact that it was snowing at the time and people were probably using the market to keep out of the weather on the way from the bus station). The council had complete confidence in the market management to deliver a high-quality shopping experience as an adjunct to the proposed Harewood Quarter’s reviving influence on the Leeds retail environment. As for the rights of assignment, Cllr Golton (http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=244) (Lib Dem) admitted anxiety, but said he had been assured they would be “negotiated individually”.
The upshot of the debate was that the 88 councillors present voted on party lines 73-15 in favour of Cllr Lewis. The full debate can be seen on the council web page http://www.leeds.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/103346
(scroll down the timeline on the right hand side of the page to 04:08:10)
The debate and our arguments did get some positive coverage in the Yorkshire Evening Post
So the struggle goes on. We will continue to keep a close eye on the Council and challenge any proposals that threaten the essential character of Leeds Kirkgate Market.