Stallholders at the city’s Kirkgate Market are calling on Bradford Council to take immediate action to close down a number of unlicensed markets that have sprung up around the city.

They fear they are losing trade to the illegal markets and are concerned about a “very worrying reduction in the number of shoppers using Kirkgate Market and an increase in empty shops in the complex”.

Dozens of traders at the Council-run market have signed a petition asking the authority to take action as it holds market franchise rights in the district giving protection from a rival market within around six miles. In addition, anyone wanting to operate a commercial market would need a licence from the Council.

Under the rules, the Council can take enforcement action against anyone breaching them, which may include obtaining a court injunction to order a rival market operator to cease trading.

Enforcement action could also be taken if planning permission for retail use is not in place.

The traders are also asking the Council to reduce the rent of stalls within Kirkgate Market due to the lack of action taken against these rival unlicensed markets which they say “has proven detrimental to our businesses”.

Last month, the Council vowed to take legal action against unlicensed markets after hearing about two private markets within a two-mile radius of the Oastler Shopping Centre and Kirkgate Market.

Both the Tradex Market at the former Shires Bathroom site, in Beckside Road, and the Marlboro Market at the former Marlboro Cinema, Carlisle Road, require a licence from the Council to operate. Organisers of the Marlboro Market handed in an application for the required licence shortly before a crunch Council meeting.

A meeting of Bradford planners this week is expected to refuse applications for retail use at the Tradex Market and The Bazaar which operates at Drummonds Mill, Lumb Lane.

A decision is expected on both these matters at the meeting in City Hall on Thursday, which takes place from 9.45am.

The Council’s markets manager Colin Wolstenholme said: “We have not as yet received any petition from Kirkgate Market traders. The Council has let a number of vacant shops in the market, so occupancy levels have improved in the last 12 months and our figures do not suggest a large reduction in customers using the market, as more than 1.7 million customers were recorded in 2011.”