Page last updated at 07:10 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 08:10 UK

Market traders in 'crisis talks'

Leeds Kirkgate Market
Councillors say Kirkgate Market is at 86.5% occupancy

Traders at a Leeds market have held "crisis talks" with councillors after claims that stalls are closing and they are not receiving any help.

The meeting was arranged by Cliff and Michelle Hocken, whose fight to keep their business afloat led to a visit from the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

Traders say a third of Kirkgate Market's stalls have closed in the past two years.

Mrs Hocken said: "We've been here 25 years and it's critical now."

"Something needs to be done," she added.

Mr and Mrs Hocken run a seafood stall at the market.

In July Mrs Hocken spoke to the prime minister about her worries during a live phone-in on BBC Radio Leeds. He then paid an unscheduled visit to the market to talk about her problems.

City 'asset'

Speaking after the talks on Tuesday night, Mrs Hocken said: "The aim of the meeting was to provide a trader's view to the council. I think this meeting was only the beginning."

Leeds City Council said occupancy levels at the market were at 86.5%.

After the meeting, councillor Barry Anderson said the authority "genuinely" wanted to move the market forward.

He said: "Leeds needs Kirkgate Market and without that we will lose one of the jewels that we have got.

"It's a worthwhile asset."

Mr Anderson said the council would now consider ways it could help traders, including whether rent payments could be reduced.

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