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Council rushes a meeting with traders ahead of our speech to Full Council

November 8, 2013

Ahead of our speech to all Councillors next Wednesday denouncing lack of progress, investment and transparency on the future of Kirkgate Market, Leeds City Council has now rushed to organise a meeting with all traders to explain them the latest news. But there will be little to communicate…
The invite was received by traders last Friday giving them a bit more than a week’s notice for an evening meeting after a long day of work. It is a rushed invite complete with typos where the Market manager recognises that “since we took the decision at Executive Board to proceed with proposals for refurbishment of Kirkgate Market it may appear that there has been little action”!!! And that is precisely the issue: that there has been no significant action.

As you might remember in March 2013 the Executive Board agreed to spend £12.3m in the refurbishments of the Market with £1.65m out of this money spent on “imminent” repairs and the progress of the refurbishment proposals. There were big press releases and announcements and the public were led to believe that all was well with the Market. After March, however, all went quiet. The council stopped publishing information about the meetings of the Kirkgate Market strategy Board, there has been barely no formal communication between traders and management and no evidence of any work in the Market. So what happened to the promised £1.65m? After writing formally to Councillors and council officers we have found out that what was an “imperative” backlog of maintenance repairs to be tackled with this money has now been delayed. How can repairs that were urgent and imperative be now delayed until further notice? We are talking here about the basic repairs that the public has told the council in endless consultation exercises that the Market needs: a roof that does not leak, a floor where you do not slip and ventilated space where you don’t freeze or boil.

In contrast, £750,000 and 115,000 are being paid to consultants to do more studies and design work. Read here the full response by the Director of City Development to the questions we raised.

It is very hard not to conclude that the council is carrying on with their plan to blight the Market so that they will have as few traders as possible to displace when the major planned refurbishments takes place.

These issues will be raised by a community deputation by Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market on the 13th of November. You can come to show support to your Market to Civic Hall at 1.30pm.

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