By Claire Schofield
Traders claim they may be faced with a £50,000 bill if plans for the refurbishment of Leeds Kirkgate market go ahead.
A meeting between traders and Leeds City Council was held last night to discuss the £10.8 million revamp but the proposals were met with an angry response from the market tenants.
Traders claim that some businesses will be landed with up to £50,000 of costs to refit and relocate as part of the refurbishment and that the council is currently offering no financial help to support them through this period.
Liz Laughton, 61, a trader at R Bethell fish stall and member of the Market Traders’ Federation, said: “The council want to move traders and cafes and they want to take away a good viable business, demolish it and then tell the trader to pay another £50,000 for a refit.
“There is no financial help whatsoever to get us through the refit period – they are throwing mud at us and then they expect us to sit there and pay for it all and survive.”
Concerns were also raised about the impending closure of the car park on George Street for the Victoria Gate shopping development, adjacent to the outdoor market, and the financial impact this closure will have on trade.
Michael Dolan, 58, a fruit and veg trader who has worked in the market for 45 years, added: “If that car park closes down, that is it. That is the first nail in the coffin. If customers can’t come down because they have nowhere to park, they will go somewhere else and they won’t come back. We will lose them.”
But the concerns raised by traders have been firmly dismissed by Leeds City Council, who stated: “We acknowledge that it will be quite a disruptive time for traders, but a package of grants and interest free loans will be on offer to relocate traders to help with moving and fitting out costs.
“Completion of the Victoria Gate development will be positive for the market as it will entice ten million visitors into the vicinity.”
Work on the refurbishment is due to begin early next year, with Leeds City Council’s executive board expected to approve the proposals at a meeting on April 2.
LISTEN: Market traders express their concerns about the council’s plans…