AN interim committee of experienced local leaders has been appointed to run the February and March markets after Manningham City Council ended its relationship with the former Warrandyte Community Market committee.
In the meantime, council seeks expressions of interest from not-for-profit community groups based in Manningham to continue to operate the market for a three-year period commencing in April.
Manningham council’s acting CEO Chris Potter said despite extensive liaison with the market committee last year, organisers had not addressed council’s concerns which included: environmental issues and protection of trees; proper set-up and governance; correct reporting structures, proper accounting practices and transparency of accounts; safety issues including plans for emergency management and evacuation; and ac- credited and planned traffic control.
Council has established an interim committee under the chairmanship of Geoff Taylor to run the February and March markets. The group’s spokesman Dick Davies explained the interim committee was independent of the former committee. It has a representative from each of Rotary Club of Warrandyte Donvale (Rob Edwards), Lions Club of Warrandyte (Geoff Taylor), local CFAs (Mark Simpson), Warrandyte Community Church (David Molyneux), and Warrandyte Community Association (Mr Davies).
The committee is using the policies and accounting practices already in place with Rotary, who run a market elsewhere, for the interim period. It is also grateful for the help from members of the former committee to enable the transfer.
“We certainly express our gratitude to the many Warrandyte people who have made the market what is has been over the past 31 years. A lot of people have contributed in many ways,” Mr Taylor told the Diary.
Mr Potter said council was seeking an interested community group or collaboration of groups to enter into a licence agreement with council for the operation of the market for a three-year period from April.
The successful bidder would be required to: provide a quality market that gives preference to local producers and handmade/craft items; encourage local sustainability and food production; provide an interesting, vibrant and uniquely Warrandyte shopping experience; attract local and regional visitors to Manning- ham and Warrandyte; maintain the natural and cultural values of the reserve; continue to distribute money to charities and community groups within Manningham; continue to ensure free entrance to the market; develop and implement Safety, Risk and Traffic Management Plans; and prepare an Event and Food Safety Agreement.
Mr Potter said while bids were sought from not-for-profit organisations, it meant the considerable profits made by the market would need to be distributed to local deserving community groups.
Given 150 stalls paying, for example, $50 per market, one could expect the market to raise about $80,000 per year.
He believes the market had perhaps become too commercial in recent years and would like to see it brought back to more local community craft and produce. Additionally, he observed the mix of stalls had not been well balanced and cited five stalls selling wax candles as an example of that.
The market would not be permitted to operate on days of Total Fire Ban. One of council’s concerns was to ensure an equitable distribution of the funds across community groups, and in particular, there would be no sudden change of funding distributions away from groups who may have come to depend on them. He confirmed the recent stall locations plan which makes provision for up to 162 stalls was to be adhered to and the new market would not be permitted to expand beyond that or up the hill.
Paul Goodison, Manningham council’s co-ordinator landscape and leisure, said the new plan relates to council-owned open space and Crown land managed by council. It excludes private land such as that area belonging to the Warrandyte Community Church, which previously had market stalls. While there is nothing preventing the new operator from expanding the market onto private land, the owner of such land would need to obtain the necessary planning permission and put policies, procedures and insurances in place which mirror those required for council land.
Applications are now open and close February 17. Council will make a decision quickly after that date, so the new operators can commence with the April market.
Mr Davies said the interim committee would be putting in a bid to become the new operator on behalf of the Warrandyte community; they did not want to see management of the market fall into commercial hands or be run by people outside the immediate Warrandyte area.
The bid would be made by a consortium of five groups running the interim committee, and the representatives on the interim committee would effectively form the management committee or “board” of the new organisation to manage the monthly operation of the market and ensure good corporate governance. They propose a larger “reference committee” advise the board and make recommendations to the management committee on the distribution of profits.
The interim committee members welcome any approach from interested organisations or individuals who would like to get involved. They envisage the new organisation could hold an annual “reporting night” similar to that done by the Warrandyte Community Bank, at which presentation of grants could be made for everyone in the community to see.
The Warrandyte Community Market has been operating since 1985. From a humble beginning it grew to about 200 stalls in the past few years attracting visitors from all over Melbourne.
It operates monthly on the first Saturday in each month except January, with two markets in December. In recent years, before the cutback in stalls, it had been taking about $100,000 per year, most of which is profit distributed to local community groups, schools, kinders, fire brigades, and housing and support services.
We should recognise the great contribution the former market committee made – they must have contributed about $2 million or so over 30 years to Warrandyte organisations.