Kirkgate Market Management Response on Parking nightmare
Two months after the car park closed the management have at last responded to FoLKM’s concerns:
Apologies for the delayed response, I was under the impression that the query had been dealt with by colleagues in Planning as your query is around the operational arrangements with Hammerson/McAlpine, and had overlooked that it had been sent to us to respond.
I think the first thing to say is that we would disagree that the closure of George St car park is having a devastating impact on market trade. We speak to many traders each day, between us, and whilst it is certainly having an impact, and some businesses are feeling that more than others, many have seen very little impact, they tell us. Footfall was certainly down in April 2014 compared to April 2013 but comparisons with the city centre cameras during April showed exactly the same percentage drop, so it is difficult to attribute this to local influences (for example, last year’s figures could have been inflated by Trinity opening).
In the first week or so, customers were clearly confused as to where else to park and the situation was not helped by a delay in getting new loading arrangements implemented on George Street so that what are now loading bays were, for almost a month, taken up all day with cars parking for free (mostly traders’ vehicles). This new arrangement, converting what were a small number of parking bays into 20 minute loading bays throughout the day, was a measure we asked for in the TRO promoted by Hammerson for George Street, to assist not only traders with servicing but also customers, who can also use the facility to drop off and collect goods from the market within a 20 minute window. Hammerson were happy to include this in their TRO. It will take time for this to filter through to our customer base but we certainly see it as a positive measure. Previously, we had an arrangement with Parking Services that traders could load/unload on George St up to 10.30 am but the rest of the day, these spaces were taken up with parking, and traders wishing to service their premises either double parked or risked a ticket by parking on double yellow lines.
Also contained within the TRO is a restriction between 3.30 pm and 4.30 pm precluding vehicle access to George Street except for taxis. The purpose of this is to help deal with the problem of trader vehicles for the open market queuing on George Street and blocking customer servicing and emergency access, whilst waiting for the bollards to be removed to allow them onto the open market. The problem was further exacerbated by the road becoming narrower due to the hoarding line. This is in the early stages but seems to be working; again it will take time for this to percolate through to all George Street users.
We expect imminently to see three of the hoarding panels opposite to be displaying information about nearest alternative car parks. This will hopefully help customers who don’t come here frequently and so might still find themselves on George Street expecting to access a car park.
In addition, McAlpine have some informal arrangements in place to allow traders to use the area around the hoarding line for loading and unloading, wherever possible.
Going forward, we have requested and have now set up regular interface meetings with McAlpine so that we get as much advance intelligence as possible which we can either plan to offset, or, if that is simply not possible, that we can share with the traders giving them chance to make their own business decisions.
Of course, as you know, we are progressing our own development plans and therefore these interface meetings will become even more relevant once work starts on our own site.
Not what you asked but perhaps helpful to know that the Markets service has been very proactive in promoting information about the changes to car parking and making sure, for example, that dynamic signage and local signs for car parks for the market are correct, and have done extensive social media and press coverage around the alternatives. We also keep our traders informed of any changes and encourage them to pass this information on to their own customers.
And the market management have at last put up a sign directing motorists to all the other car parks in the city centre.
So now you know where to go.