Council attempts to appease businesses whilst traders label offer ‘ridiculous’
Businesses at Leeds Kirkgate Market will continue to benefit from an extended reduction in rent whilst major refurbishment works take place, despite calls from traders that it is still ‘not enough’.
Last week, Cllr Gerry Harper, Leeds City Council’s markets champion, announced the decision that the current 20 per cent rent reduction, which was due to expire soon, has now been extended until at least the end of the financial year in March 2016.
The rates were set to return to their usual fee this month for indoor traders and in December for outdoor traders.
Refurbishment work has been underway for the past six months onsite and although efforts have been made to minimise disruption to trade, Leeds City Council has agreed to extend the existing arrangements to offset the current trading conditions.
Cllr Harper said: “We realise that during our substantial £13.7 million refurbishment programme of Leeds Kirkgate Market there will continue to be some disruption to both businesses and customers, which is why we have taken the decision to extend the 20 per cent reduction in base rents for traders.
“This will mean that regular traders at Kirkgate indoor and outdoor markets will continue to benefit from this financial support whilst works continue, which is a signal of our continued commitment to supporting businesses at Kirkgate Market during this exciting time of change.”
Despite the announcement, some traders remain unconvinced at the long term benefit for their businesses.
Mr Bhardwaj has been working at the site for the past 15 years whilst his wife also runs a stall from the same premises.
As the Victoria Gate development continues to be developed on Kirkgate Market’s former car park, , Mr Bhardwaj says his stall has suffered a fall in sales by as much as 70 per cent.
“What they (Leeds City Council) have done to the market and what they are offering in this rent reduction is ridiculous,” he said previously.
“They were warned well in advance that this would happen but they didn’t listen and now they are just trying to whitewash it all by giving us 20 per cent off.
“We’ve lost so much business because people just don’t come in here anymore.”
Once completed next year, the newly refurbished market will form part of a prime retail location for the city, alongside the new Victoria Gate development. These improvements are hoped to make the market even more attractive to existing and future customers and traders.