MARKET traders across Leeds are receiving extra support as the COVID-19 lockdown eases.

Outdoor markets like those held weekly in Otley were virtually closed during the height of the restrictions, with only food stalls allowed to keep trading.

Leeds City Council, which owns many of the local markets, had been giving outdoor traders rent-free space during the crisis.

Now, with lockdown easing and many stallholders trading again, the council has introduced a range of measures that are intended to help traders bounce back.

Introduced on July 1 and set to last for at least three months, they include a variety of rent concessions which are dependent on the type of goods being sold.

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said the move was a welcome step that was good news for Otley as a whole.

He said: “I welcome the continuing support that Leeds will be providing for Otley Market.

“Market traders have provided a valuable service throughout the difficult days of the COVID-19 crisis and I think they deserve all our thanks.

“The city council’s offer will assist them to keep trading and help with the rebuilding of Otley’s economy.”

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “The council have put extra financial support measures in place as businesses start to return to trading again.

“This includes a 25 per cent rent concession for all traders - indoor, outdoor and those who stand at our district markets - which will apply from July 1 September 30.

“Concessions of 50 per cent are in place for certain commodity types who have more restrictions placed on their business as per government guidance.

“Any business that is still unable to open due to current guidance, will receive 100 per cent discount during this period or until the guidance changes allowing them to trade again.

“The council will review the situation again in September.”

There has been much less welcome news for indoor traders at Leeds’ Kirkgate Market, however.

Stallholders there who sell non-essential goods have been told they have to pay backdated rent, plus a service charge, for April, May and the first half of June - when many were unable to trade.

They have been given until 2022 to pay and the local authority says it will not taken any enforcement action against any that cannot do so.

A council spokesperson said that it was ‘committed to providing a range of meaningful support to all traders at Leeds Kirkgate Market to reflect the very challenging conditions that businesses have and continue to face due to coronavirus’.

That support will include the discounted rent offer for the months to come.