Byron farmer's markets
Byron farmer's markets

Markets may go to 'highest bidder'

BYRON Shire market stallholders and managers fear the council is moving to turn the community events into "free-market" enterprises, removing their local basis and their benefit to the not-for-profit groups that organise them.

The council is in the process of tweaking a draft amended policy on the running of several markets within the shire, which will go on public exhibition soon.

An earlier version of the draft policy has been seen by The Northern Star, with lines clearly drawn through a number of phrases and paragraphs, which look marked for deletion.

The stated objectives of the policy are to "encourage, regulate, promote and stimulate markets on council-owned-and-controlled land" to support a number of market sectors.

Looking likely to be removed from the list of uses are "local production for local consumption" and "non-profit community groups".

Below that has been inserted a section under the heading "to promote", which includes the phrases "fair opportunity for all prospective parties to compete" for use of crown land managed by council, and to "obtain best value for money for the use of the land".

The Byron Shire Markets Action Group believes such changes would open control of the markets to the highest bidder and thus "seriously affect the socio-economic grass-root of our community", said spokeswoman Tess Cullen.

The group consists of delegates from the Bangalow, Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads community markets, and the Byron Farmers, Artisan and Beachside markets, and wants the public to be provided with full information about the policy.

For now it is a "waiting game", Ms Cullen said, until council put the draft policy on public display.

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