An action plan has been drawn up to save a struggling Leeds market which council bosses admit is losing them money– and which many potential customers don’t even know exists.
Pudsey market has seen a steady decline in recent years and the YEP has reported that dwindling numbers of stallholders and a slump in trade threatened to close the market forever.
The market – which runs three days a week – sits in a covered area to the side of Pudsey bus station, but managers say the location is “poor” and out-of-towners wouldn’t even know it existed.
The council’s markets service – which also manages Kirkgate, district markets, the successful Asian Bazaar and street trading in the city centre – has now drawn up an action plan which includes looking at possible new locations.
In a report presented to the council’s outer west Leeds area mangers, markets manager Sue Burgess said Pudsey market could “flourish” but a more “coherent” marketing strategy was needed.
However raising rents has been ruled out, since the numbers of stallholders is already low.
The report said: “Pudsey market has seen a decline in recent years due to increased competition and changing shopping habits.
“It operates at a loss for the council. It faces challenges including its lack of visibility, poor attendance and lack of financial viability. However if these are addressed, Pudsey market could have a much brighter future.”
The report highlighted the rise of supermarket and online shopping as contributing factors, but also noted: “In Pudsey the decline has been exacerbated by...the location of the market which, whilst close to a major transport hub and a cut-through to the town centre, is not particularly visible from either.
“A potential customer would almost need to know of the market’s existence in advance in order to find it.”
One passionate supporter of the market says breaking away from council control into local hands might be the way to save it.
Pudsey Labour councillor Josie Jarosz said allowing stallholders and their backers more autonomy could be the only viable solution.
“I would say we would be better running it from Pudsey rather than centrally,” Coun Jarosz told the YEP.
“They [the council] have not been making a profit for a long time. I feel that if we had a bit more autonomy then we could turn it around.
“We could do a lot more if Pudsey’s area councillors - along with Calverley’s and Farsley’s - had it.
“Some of the stallholders really are trying hard.
“It’s a shame because it could be so good if we could attract more people into it.”