Leeds’ Kirkgate Market: Traders express concerns over council’s five-year strategy

  • reporter 

by Hashaam Yaqoob

by Tim Green (Wikimedia Commons)

Traders at Leed’s Kirkgate Market have criticised the council’s lack of communication over their five-year strategy.

Some have felt that the Council’s response has not been reciprocal with periodic emails about plans for the shopping area, but with no invitation to offer feedback. 

Theo, a worker at the food stall Fat Annie’s, said: “I don’t really know anything about the plans, they send us some emails but they haven’t really communicated with us.”

John Paul Johnson of JP Johnson Butchers claimed that since he moved here five years ago, the council has been promising to fill the vacant stalls, but in five years has seldom done so. 

He said: “It hasn’t changed when it should,” referring to the decreasing numbers of customers over the years. 

Some shopkeepers were accepting of the changes the council was proposing, arguing the Kirkgate Market must keep up with the times in order to attract customers and compete against supermarkets. 

Others expressed weariness over the perceived attempt to appeal to families, stating: “The more stalls there are, the better.” 

Peter, who owns record stall Too Damn Loud, said: “There are two things that move people around the market and that’s toilets and food.”  

He went on to explain that by centralising the food stalls into one area it discourages movement which is vital for stalls to survive.  

Kirkgate Market owners did praise Leeds City Council for its communication during the COVID-19 pandemic and offering a 25-50% rent cut to inside market stalls. 

Leeds City Council announced a plan to redevelop Kirkgate Market over the next five years to help the district recover from the damage of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In March, Lisa Stebbings from the traders’ representatives pleaded for the council to “listen to us”, claiming that the strategy that was unveiled was done so without consulting traders, and without knowledge of how they have changed and adapted over the last two years. 

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