Challenge to politicians over future of market

CAMPAIGNERS concerned about Kirkgate Market, in Leeds, after several stalls closed during the recession have challenged the new Labour administration of Leeds City Council to put the market on a surer footing.

Last night the Labour Group said it was committed to continuing to have an open dialogue with the Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market.

Friends group member Carl McCarron said: "In opposition, Labour was quick to criticise the decline under the previous coalition and supported both the market traders and our campaign group.

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"Now is the time for them to turn words into meaningful action by supporting our key demands."

The council has said it is committed to the market's future and has provided 250,000 for traders to tap into, which includes money for grants and business advice.

The Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market launched its campaign after consultation with traders, who fear for the market's future following the stall closures.

The group wants the council to make changes including significant rent reductions and to put the traders and their expertise at the heart of market strategy and decision making.

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Coun Mark Dobson (Labour, Garforth & Swillington), who presented a recent white paper to the April meeting of the full city council in support of the market, said: "We are surprised and disappointed at the tone of these unexpected comments from the Friends of Kirkgate Market.

"We, and Kirkgate traders, have had and look forward to continuing an open, honest and helpful dialogue to help resolve the issues facing the market.

"The Labour Group only formally took over control of the council on May 27 and therefore, we have only just gained access to detailed information on the market which will help us investigate the situation more fully.

"We will be setting up early discussions with the traders' representatives to take this forward."