Leeds market workers count the cost of car park closure

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Traders at historic Kirkgate Market in Leeds say a car park closure has left their businesses stuck in second gear.

Stallholders claim their takings have slumped by as much as 40 per cent since the Leeds City Council-owned car park at Union Street and George Street shut on April 5.

The site, which is a stone’s throw from the market, closed ahead of the start of work on Eastgate’s £150m Victoria Gate retail development.

Traders say more needs to be done to make drivers aware of other parking options within easy reach of the market.

One stallholder on the market’s famed Butcher’s Row, who asked not to be named, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “We’re 40 per cent down since the car park closed – it’s been terrible.

“Look at it this way, if a car park at Asda closed then the store would suffer. We’re going through the same.”

The stallholder also said traders were unhappy that fencing put up around the car park was carrying adverts for Victoria Gate and the Victoria Quarter, but not for the market.

Businesses on George Street are suffering as well, with Graham Stephenson, manager of the Fisherman’s Wife fish and chip shop, reporting a 20 per cent drop in trade.

He said: “It’s just awful. We had no consultation, we were simply told ‘the car park is closing’.”

A spokesman for the council said: “Throughout this process, we have worked to forewarn motorists and local businesses about the closure of the car park at Union Street and George Street. As soon as the developers made us aware of their intentions to begin work on site, we ensured that information notices were widely displayed to make people aware of the car park closure and to highlight the wide range of alternative parking available in the city centre.

“We are hopeful that Easter events as well as trade from an increased number of construction workers who will be on site in the forthcoming weeks will offset any short term impact the closure has had on trade.”

The spokesman also said that Victoria Gate would drive forward the redevelopment of the area around the market and provide new high-quality parking.

Council bosses recently unveiled plans for a £12.3m refurbishment of the market.

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