Libs plan to shut down Newtown markets failing

A Liberal plan to end the Newtown Markets is set to fail, in what appears to be a clumsy election stunt targeted at the Greens.

Newly elected Liberals moved on Tuesday night to immediately shut down the popular Newtown community markets. Due to the absence of a small number of Councillors at the meeting, the Liberals had the numbers to refuse the Development Approval for the markets. They went on to move a motion that enforcement officers be sent to issue stall holders fines this weekend.

The Greens encouraged an appeal against the Council decision. The appeal was made at 11am this morning by the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.

The motion to shut down the markets was passed with the support of the Liberals, two Labor Councillors and the Conservative Labor-backed Mayor, but the Labor Councillors are understood to be reconsidering their position.

Greens Councillor for North Ward Sylvie Ellsmore, said: “The move to shut down the popular Newtown markets and send in enforcement officers was an outrageous and heavy-handed action.

“The Newtown Markets are a social enterprise which was established with the support of the previous Council. The Greens support a vibrant community strip, and cancellation of the markets would have cut funding for important community projects.

“The Greens were the only party to stand united in support of the markets, and my phone was ringing off the hook yesterday as we worked to find ways to overturn the decision,” she said.

The Greens are confident that the full Council will uphold the appeal against the refusal of the DA for the markets.

Clr Ellsmore said, “In what I can only put down to an election brain explosion, the Liberals ignored the support of the local business association and the glowing reports from our own Council staff to move for the immediate shut down of the markets.”

The action comes on the same day that the Liberal Party announced that it would not preference the Greens in lower house seats. Support for expanding community markets in the inner west was a Greens commitment during the 2012 Local Council election.

“The appeal should prevent any fines for stall holders this weekend. We encourage local residents to come down to the markets on the weekend to show their support,” Clr Ellsmore said.

“We had engaged in talks with local businesses and called for reports months ago to ensure that any potential issues with the markets were dealt with through DA conditions. We may be in an election period, but Councillors of all parties owe it to the community to try and work together to find cooperative outcomes, and not to misuse our positions for political gain.

“What is even more disappointing is that, having refused the markets because of “overuse” of the site, at the same meeting the Liberals and Labor then moved or voted for a series of DAs by commercial developers which failed to comply with Council development controls,” she said.

“The Greens remain united behind the markets and call on the other Councillors to confirm that they will reverse the decision to shut down the markets,” said Clr Ellsmore.

Media Contact: Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

Council’s review of the markets found it was a successful incubator for local businesses, with two local businesses growing from market stalls to renting shopfronts on King Street.

The Newtown Markets were also last year the successful recipient of an award from the adjoining Marrickville Chamber of Commerce. It is understood that a planned food and wine fair market day sponsored by the local businesses association (Newtown Business Precinct Association) will also not be able to proceed unless Council overturns its decision.

More information is available in Council reports and meeting minutes:

  • 13 August 2013  DA Newtown Markets including staff report recommending approval with extensive conditions
  • 13 August 2013 Markets Hub Fire Safety Report – a copy of the fire report about the Hub, and the recommendation from staff indicating that there was no issue with the markets operating as long as suitable conditions are imposed
  • 13 July 2013 Econ Report Newtown Markets – The report from Council’s Economic Development Unit about the positive impact of the markets on local business
  • June 2013 Council votes to waive the “pitch charge” for the Newtown Markets
  • 12 May 2013 May Council Meeting Minutes Markets – At its May meeting the Council adopted two Greens Notices of Motion about the Newtown Markets. The motions were supported by Liberal Councillor Mark Gardiner.

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