WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Protect our markets or all community events?

YOUR BIG DECISION.

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I built Farm Direct for the people, so it is for you to choose its future.

Our position at this stage is our Lights-view and Parafield Markets, even our old Gawler site like most markets in the country were approved by local councils/airport authorities, they were assessed as merit use, which means they are an acceptable form of development/event under development law.

So far we have been able to ascertain that most markets, fetes and community events, especially those that are held on any regular basis, are approved in the very same way.

When we moved from the old Parafield site to Salisbury to upgrade facilities, we were made to jump through a few hoops, due our size, this included health and safety, environment, DPRI (Road traffic) Heritage SA, the approval of the development assessment panel, etc etc, and of course we passed.

Competition in the industry backed by an unregistered pop up market on my old site and middle men in the wholesale industry, took the council to court for approving us, using a well funded legal team arguing a technicality, that stalls should be considered Shops, and a group of stalls a shopping centre, they won.

This outcome means our approval for Salisbury was overturned and has to head back to the application process as an event/development which is “Non complying”, this will now be how all developments/events will now be assessed. Our other market at Lights-view and the approvals we have in other locations can also be challenged, as can most markets, fetes and events in Australia.

The process to approve a non-complying applications, is extremely tough, expensive and has no guarantees, full details;  https://www.facebook.com/freshfoodaustralia/posts/1141695339183426:0

This leaves us a community several options of where to go from here.

  1. We take this recent court decision back to the courts as an appeal.
  2. We lobby parliament to change the development act definitions to exclude stalls from being able to be called shops
  3. We go back to the development process for Salisbury as a shopping centre.
  4. We continue to trade and do nothing and refuse to close.
  5. We shut all our markets and give up on the other sites already complied for expansion.

Each of these options have cost factors, Farm Direct is not for profit, some weeks we lose money but on average we make a few hundred dollars after paying costs, advertising, marketing on line, signage ect ect comes out of what’s left, as founder I save anything else, but I assume my two days a week and the many hours on line and handling media, compliance and the defence of our markets, is worth a couple of hundred to me. (I would make 5 to 10 times that if I stayed home.)

This being the case we have very little money, our on-line fundraiser has raised around $3400 and cash donations are being audited for transparency, I assume around $1000.

The biggest cost is closure, because less people will have access to fresh affordable produce and our stall holders, farmer and producers may be forced onto the dole cue, like so many will of this finding is not overturned in one way or another.

Here are the final options;

  1. To appeal the court decision and safe guard all existing and future markets, fetes and events across the country will cost around $4,000 just in filing fees, hopefully less, We believe we have established an excellent legal team pro-bono, but if we were to lose, I would have to personally wear the legal costs. (We have to file the appeal by the 11th of February unless we can get an extension of time)

 

  1. The council could appeal the decision and then our lawyers would be able to join the action and we would have no costs and would not be accountable for legal costs if both teams lost (we feel we would win) Many in the council support this move, but do not believe they have the numbers to get an approval to start the action.

 

  1. My self, the council and several MP’s that are on side, will lobby the government to change the legislation to exclude stalls as being a shop in the definition, you can help with this.

 

  1. If we exclude the idea of saving every stall holder, of which there are thousands all over the country, we can simply go back and start a new application for Salisbury, the process is long and arduous, very expensive and there are no guarantees along the way (however unlike new applications, we have already passed most of the necessary red tape).

 

  1. If we take the path of least resistance, in protecting our markets only, one of the major costs will be hiring a Development Planner to help with the application process; this cost has yet to be factored in, and may make the legal avenue less expensive and the best option for every event in the country. (We would also have to offer a refund on those on line donations that made their donations based on the appeal process only)

 

  1. We could close down and give up on our new locations, this avenue is one I would never support personally, if everything we are trying was to fail, I would opt to trade illegally and face the consequences, most of our stall holders would also support this action.

 

The big problem is money, if we go to the courts, I can’t see it fair that my wife and I would have to cover the costs of a loss, if we go back to the development process, I am not sure we can afford a development planner, as non-complying applications are rarely granted without the best people on board, we have everything already in place.

What we need is a backer, some one that can converse with our legal team, and if they support us, will cover the costs in the event of a loss only, or to raise more awareness and donations, but time is running out.

I am still trying to raise more money, that way we have a safe guard, and when we win, any excess money raised would be donated to those recent fire victims who lost everything and were not insured on an equitable basis.

The on-line funding link ; https://www.gofundme.com/iupy3c

I need your thoughts on where to go, it is your market, without our customers, we are a group of struggling farmers and producers with nowhere to sell our product.

I have tried all the media, Dick Smith, Leon Bynor you name it, even friends I have dealt with for year, with very little success, so it is now up to us

With all of you behind us, working shoulder to shoulder, I believe we will make the right decision and make the best out of this sad situation, our future as a nation at this moment in time is in serious need of a win in the peoples favor, and what better a win than ensuring access to affordable fresh produce for future generations.

 

Mark Aldridge

Links ;

http://www.courts.sa.gov.au/Judgments/Lists/Judgments/Attachments/2429/2016%20SAERDC%201.pdf

https://markaldridge.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/outline-of-argument-markets-v-johnston/

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2 Responses to “WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Protect our markets or all community events?”

  1. Colin Herring Says:

    many markets were initially encouraged as a revitalisation program. It was a directive from Councils through to State Government. Markets were identified as at the heart of community existence. Now watch the bureaucracies back pedal without any reference to both State and Council initiatives as the Corporations choose where and when we can purchase goods.

  2. Colin Herring Says:

    When the failed attempts at a market in the CBD of Salisbury were implemented at a Council Friendly Location (The Civic Square), there were no hoops. It gained full support with Council and Trader “obligations” as part of the official CBD revitalisation program with the Official government TOD (Transport Oriented Development) all rubber stamped and squeaky clean.

    If you were to look at the requirements for community events, there were many breeches of Government regulations for such CBD markets (eg provisions for toilets). But there again that’s why the traders association exists – so the Council can evade its own red tape. If anything goes wrong (or the traders don’t do what they are told) then the red tape begins and the traders association can be dissolved with no liability toward the Council. – SEE how the annual Christmas Parade is run)

    Any attempts to divert business from the CBD or established areas of trade and this manufactured resistance and red tape occurs. The reason why these counciul endorsed markets failed are numerous. eg Location – to satisfy and rationalise Council’s multimillion dollar expenditure on the Civic Square over the last 15 years and also non-competition with permanent traders meant restricted goods at the markets.

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