Leeds Council sets aside £50k for Kirkgate Market improvements suggested by traders

While the row over the long-term future of Kirkgate Market continues, Leeds City Council says it has set aside £50,000 to be spent this year on improvements to the market to be suggested by the market’s traders.

The cash is part of £125,000 that is going to be spent by the Council in a continuing effort to “attract new customers to the market, as well as retaining existing customers and improving the customer experience”, according to a draft ‘business support’ spending plan approved by the Council’s Director of Resources on Tuesday, 2nd August.

Amongst other projects at the market that are going to receive cash this year are:

* the relocation of the market’s information centre into a purpose built customer centre, and facilities for a ‘shop and drop’ scheme located within the market area (£25,000)

* the kitting out of a multi-function room on the market’s balcony to act as a driver rest room, educational base and Council meeting space (£20,000)

* the purchase of pop-up promotional stalls to be used to promote the market at events (£10,000)

* miscellaneous projects such as LCD customer info screens, external signage or interior decoration (£20,000)

In December 2009 the Council agreed to spend £250,000 over two years on improvements to the market. The first year’s £125,000 was largely spent on lighting (£44,484), internal decorations (£45,000) and the replacement of automatic doors.

A report from the Council’s Head of City Centre and Markets, Cath Follin, made available on the Council’s website on Tuesday (but dated 1st June) said this year’s spending priorities would be agreed at meetings with the Leeds Branch of the National Market Traders Federation.

Footfall encouraging
The cash spent in the first year had contributed to an encouraging increase in footfall during the year, which included a 10% increase during two weeks “recently”, the report said.

“The work undertaken in year 1 has achieved this objective both in terms of positive comments received by the service from traders and customers and also with tangible benefits notably with regard to footfall.

“While retailing remains difficult across the region footfall on the market has remained encouraging during the year including a period of two weeks recently where it actually increased by more than 10% on the comparable period the previous year. The projects undertaken in year 1 are considered to be a contributory factor to this increase,” the report said.

The Council’s option plans for the future of the market have been criticised by the Friends of Kirkgate Market. Check out their website here.

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