Kirkgate Market vendors claim footfall is on a “downward spiral” following roadworks

BY Phoebe Morton

The Connecting Leeds roadworks have been going on since 2019 outside Kirkgate Market

Stallholders are blaming the ongoing Connecting Leeds redevelopments for apparent falling footfall at the market.

The Connecting Leeds project has been ongoing since 2019 at a cost of £25 million pounds.

Since October 1 2021, Connecting Leeds has been resurfacing roads around the Corn Exchange and Kirkgate Market.

This resurfacing work is due to continue in the area until November 17, with the project aiming to be completed in April 2022.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s website says the aim of the Connecting Leeds project is to improve the city centre for buses, pedestrians and cyclists.

However, some Kirkgate Market vendors suggest the project is having a negative effect on local businesses.

Michael Dolan, a greengrocer who has been selling at the market for 55 years, said: “It’s really, really quiet.

“The roadworks and the lack of parking – it’s been terrible.”

“It’s been terrible”

MICHAEL DOLAN, GREENGROCER

Mr Dolan described the lack of customers at the market as a “downward spiral”.

Market vendors are frustrated by the decreasing number of customers at the market.

Joseph Laughton, a fishmonger whose family stall has been at the market since 1911, said alongside the roadworks footfall at the market had been low since the 2014 closure of the Union Street Car Park.

The car park was closed to make way for the Victoria Gate development.

Mr Laughton said: “When the market’s management decided to take away the car parking which extended right out onto the outside market there, they were stunned that when they took away the car park the clientele in the market went down.

 “I sell prawns and I could have told them that.”

Mr Laughton added that the footfall at the market was “nowhere near back to pre-COVID levels”.

“We’re nowhere back to pre-COVID levels”

joseph laughton, fishmonger

Other stallholders expressed frustration at the roadworks making their commuting more difficult.

However, some stallholders said they have not felt such an extreme effect.

An employee from Dale Farm Foods, who have been at the market for 20 years, said: “I think the roadworks have had some effect” but otherwise “we’ve been as constant as we have been”.

The council has been contacted for a reply to the frustrations of Kirkgate market vendors, but are yet to respond.

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