Public meeting over Leeds Kirkgate Market’s future

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: Kirkgate Market, Leeds.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: Kirkgate Market, Leeds.
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A public meeting is to be held over the future of historic Kirkgate Market in Leeds.

Traders and shoppers are invited to attend the event, to hear about plans, on April 17 at the city centre Trinity Church.

The Friends of Kirkgate Market, formed two years ago to protect the market and has since collected 10,000 signatures supporting traders, said in its latest newsletter: “Leeds City Council says it wants Kirkgate Market to be the best market in the UK, but sadly, the Council’s vision of the future is the stuff of nightmares.”

Councillors have approved proposals by consultants Quarterbridge, to shrink the largest indoor market in Europe by a quarter of it size and are searching for a ‘commercial partner’ to redevelop the city’s historic asset.

The group says that Kirkgate market, which employs 2,000 people on 600 stalls and generates £2m profit a year, needs major investment after years of neglect.

The Friends group ideas include setting up a public trust owned by the people; a call to abandon plans to sell off 25 per cent of the market; reduce rent by 50 per cent for 12 months implementing calls by Leeds National Market Traders Federation.

Sara Gonsalez, of the Friends of Kirkgate Market, said: “The meeting will discuss the future of the market and will explain the details and our position about plans to shrink the market and possibly transfer its management to a public-private partnership. We will be distributing 10,000 copies of our newsletter in the next few days.”

Sara said that if Quarterbridge’s plans were followed, the outdoor market would go and hundreds of traders would be forced out, destroying the market’s character.

She said: “With local elections looming, the backlash from traders and customers has seen senior councillors appearing to backtrack, saying “nothing has been decided” and the market “will remain in council ownership”.

“However, it is well known that there has been a long-term agenda to re-develop the market into just another bland shopping opportunity for a well-heeled elite.”

The meeting is at 6.30pm on Tuesday April 17, at Trinity Church, Boar Lane.