A senior Leeds councillor has accused the management of the city’s Kirkgate market of wasting money on pet projects – money which, he says, would have been better spent on improving conditions for the market’s “struggling” traders.
A press release issued today by the council’s Conservative Group says that following a recent visit to the market, chair of the council’s Scrutiny Board (Regeneration) Cllr John Procter “was shocked to discover that management had spent £27,000 establishing a hospitality suite. This is in addition to the expense of transferring the market office, reportedly costing £52,000.”
The market’s management are now requesting authority to spend “an additional £12,980 on staffing, above the near £1m budget that is already spent,” the press release says.
“At a time when traders are struggling, and the future shape and size of the market is in question, spending such large amounts of money on pet projects seems bizarre,” Cllr Procter is quoted as saying. “We were told that the creation of a Christmas grotto cost thousands and barely received any visitors.”
“Every time money is wasted like this it diverts funds that could have been spent on improving conditions for traders or offering discounts on rents,” he adds. “Now officers want to spend even more money on staffing, when they already spend almost one million pounds each year on staff!”
Market staff restructure
The extra £12,980 referred to by Cllr Procter is the overall cost of a “staff restructure” at the markets, details of which were posted on the council’s website towards the end of last month.
The restructure principally involves cleaning staff shift patterns that are being updated to cope with the six days a week trading of the market and the introduction of “specialist markets” on the outdoor site “on most Sundays”.
There’s also going to be a new Project Officer post introduced to handle the market’s “growing online and social media presence”, and to manage the relationship with traders as efforts continue to increase footfall.
The restructure report said the extra £12,980 “will be resolved by future management of a combination of overtime and utility team cover”.