Tensions remain over future of Kirkgate Market

Kirkgate Market

By Ryan Cumberworth, Tom Reyer and Jack Walker

The future of Kirkgate Market in Leeds remains a source of tension as traders believe Leeds City Council is attempting to stifle criticism of the Market Management Board.

In May 2019, traders passed a vote of no-confidence in the Board, which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the market and is tasked with responding to the concerns of tenants.

But traders remain unconvinced that the council is taking their concerns seriously.

These range from a poor relationship between management and traders to the belief that the Board has “no short, medium or long-term strategy in place”, according to a document seen by the Yorkshire Voice.

Narinder Sharma has been trading at the market for 40 years and was responsible for the vote of no confidence being held.

He said: “The public want the market. The traders want the market. This market can thrive, but the council want to sell this land to develop it.

“This used to be a great place.”

A council spokesperson told Yorkshire Voice: “We remain fully open to meeting with any of the traders in a positive dialogue to hear their views and discussing any issues they may have.”

The council had earlier responded to Mr Sharma’s concerns in a letter also seen by the Yorkshire Voice.

The letter said: “We acknowledge that the relationship between the Traders and the Market Management is important to the successful ongoing operation of the Market.”

However, not all the traders at Kirkgate Market share Mr Sharma’s opinion on how the council is running the market.

Simon Oakley has been a trader at the market for three years and said: “Existing tenants don’t like how the council is running the market, but they are doing their very best.

“I find they are generally supportive.”

Mr Oakley also said that the market has benefitted from increased exposure and public events hosted by the council.

The market, which has been open in Leeds since 1857, boasts around 600 stalls and attracts almost ten million visitors a year, according to yorkshire.com.

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