People power and a raft of public safety, amenity and access measures gave Newtown Community Markets a last minute reprieve by Marrickville Council last week.
But concerns remains rogue traders are exploiting its reputation and halving legitimate stallholders’ income, which support critical social welfare programmes run by Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.
An amended development application by the centre seeking to formalise their arrangement with Council answered the competition, safety, amenity and access concerns of Council’s development committee.
The revamped application was raised at the first Council meeting chaired by incoming Marrickville Mayor Jo Haylen last Tuesday.
Ms Haylen focused on the fact that the community markets represent what people love about Newtown.
‘’It’s a little bit alternative and different and they really like the vibrancy of activating that public space,” she said.
Conditions accepted by almost all councillors include parameters placed on where stalls can set up. Pedestrian thoroughfare of 1.5 metres for safety and access of four metres for emergency vehicles were designated.
Council assets, such as gardens and seating, and access to shops are not to be impeded. The market remains limited to one day per week and the duration is restricted to 10am to 4pm each Saturday, with extended trading during summer months.
The arrangement will be reviewed after the standard two years, the Mayor said.
Councillor Morris Hanna, an Independent, was the only councillor who voted in opposition of the Council approval for the continuation of Newtown Markets.
“The shopkeepers in the small suburbs don’t need someone to come only one day a week, pay very cheap rents and try to get business out of them,’’ he said.
Staff at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre are “thrilled” the future of the centre run markets is secured by Council approval and thanks to community support, operations manager Barbara Keen said.
Ms Keen said the markets help fund the more than 30-year-old, not-for-profit incorporated association’s outreach efforts for disadvantaged or marginalised people.
“Now we have somewhere between 20 to 30 stalls and we’re hopeful to grow to as many stalls as we’re able to have on the square site, but it’s always going to be small,” she said.
However, fee-dodging unregistered, unregulated and uninsured traders who set up in the Martin Luther King memorial site remain unwelcome competition for the centre’s law-biding community spirited Saturday stallholders.