Questions and Answers from Richard Lewis
On Tuesday March 18th FoLKM met with Richard Lewis and his team to try to get clarity on the many proposals for the future of Kirkgate Market.
- We asked what the council has done to get a clear understanding of who currently uses the market and also to know what measures will be put in place to protect some of the most vulnerable groups who rely on the market
- We voiced our concerns about the plans for the 76 hall as a covered daily market. How do they know that it’s going to work? What research/market testing has been done to give the council confidence that they will be able to fill the hall and guarantee a minimum level of income from the newly developed 76 hall?
- What guarantees can the Council give traders around rent levels? Is part of the guarantee of repayment of the £12.3m going to involve raised rent levels? We are worried that rents will increase, certain traders will leave and prices will go up which in turn will change the demographic of those who are able to shop at the market.
- We also wanted to know how many existing traders still had the right of assignment in perpetuity? What proportion of these will have to move in the redevelopment and whether or not they will be able to retain these rights in perpetuity? We also wished to know how the council and market management ensures that there is transparency and equity in any process of renegotiating contracts?
- When traders are going to be moved, is there going to be a re-selection process? We’d like the details of this process, criteria for selection and placing etc? Will traders have any say in the design of this process?
Is the Outside Market going to get smaller i.e. fewer or smaller stalls? What guarantees can he give over the costs to traders of having a stall on the outside market? What is the level of disruption that traders and customers could experience during redevelopment of outdoor market?
- In March last year £1.65m was approved by Council for continuing development and carrying out basic/urgent repairs. How much of that has been spent on repairs? How can putting off imminent work that has been so long outstanding be justified?
- Why has so little progress been made in putting in place a management which traders have trust in and are involved in? Surely this is the time to invest effort to establishing a means by which traders can have input on this development. We are not suggesting that a newly formed board that would immediately have decision making powers over the entire project; however, enabling traders to have a voice on issues like a fair and transparent re-selection process, or getting input on issues like the proposed removal of the wall on the outdoor market makes sense.
Here is the good news:
- The wall in the outside market is not coming down
- LCC agreed to take on board our point about protecting vulnerable people who use the market more in the vision statement
- The Manager agreed to put the project board minutes on website and improve communications
And here is the bad news:
- They clearly have not fulfilled their Public Sector employers Duty (PESD) as they just looked at current equality representation but did not measure the impact of their changes
- They could not clarify spend on improvements
- They did not know numbers of stalls moving and they were not clear on the process. There will be a reselection process when traders are moved from their stall but there was no detail on this. The Manager assured us that the criteria for re-selection would be “shared” with traders
- LCC confirmed that if stalls move to a new build stall rents will go up – but they had no idea of numbers or proportion of stalls this was likely to be – but they quote “there is no general policy to hike up rents”.
- The management board will not be in place until May 2014 when everything is done – and nobody can say what influence the management board will have in the future