One-year rents slash for Leeds outdoor market traders

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RENTS at a historic Leeds outdoor market are to be slashed by a fifth for a whole year.

Outside traders at Kirkgate Market have been handed the early New Year’s gift for 12 months from January 1.

All stallholders with a regular licence to trade at Leeds Kirkgate Open Market will be granted the “significant reduction” in their base rent.

It follows approval in September of a similar 20 per cent decrease in rent for indoor tenants, to compensate for losses and tougher trading conditions during a £12.3m refurbishment programme at the market which is set to begin in early 2015.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for transport and the economy, said: “We realise that during our substantial £12.3m refurbishment programme of Leeds Kirkgate Market, there may be some disruption to both businesses and customers, which is why we have now taken the decision to offer outside traders a 20 per cent reduction in their base rents. This will mean that regular traders at Kirkgate indoor and outdoor markets can now benefit from a cut in their rent from the council, which is a signal of our continued commitment to support businesses at Kirkgate Market during this exciting time of change.”

Relations between the council and some traders have been strained in recent months, amid ongoing uncertainty about the refurbishment and its implications. The future of the market after the arrival of the Victoria Gate development has caused particular concern.

The earlier rent rebate had been welcomed, but some traders feared the 20 per cent reduction would not cover their losses. It was also claimed the closure of the main car park near the market, to make way for initial construction work on Victoria Gate, had caused some traders’ takings to slump by up to 40 per cent.

Council market bosses have held regular meetings with lobbying group FOLKM (Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market) to discuss concerns.