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Byron Shire
July 23, 2024

Back to the market: Byron’s latest draft policy

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Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Council is set to place its revised draft markets policy back on exhibition after the previous draft was met with howls of outrage by community groups and residents.

Concerns were expressed that the policy required every market conducted on crown land (including the Byron and New Brighton farmers markets) be put out to tender and that the subsequent successful tenderers might take the markets away from their existing local community focus.

Such was the concern expressed – more than 1,000 submissions were received – that the council agreed to a public meeting moderated by Kerry O’Brien on December 5 last year at Byron Community Centre.

The packed-out meeting at first wanted the policy scrapped altogether. After considerable debate and explanation by councillors that the state government would only accept a policy that allowed for tenders on all markets conducted on crown land, a resolution was passed that called for Council to undertake a number of actions.

The greatest concern of the meeting was the list of assessment criteria for the draft Expression of Interest document, which was developed by council officers and gave revenue to council a 40 per cent weighting and community values a mere 10 per cent.

Following the public exhibition, Council amended the qualitative assessment criteria, which it claims now better reflects the need to support local providers and community organisations.

‘The changes to the assessment criteria is why we are placing it back on public exhibition for people to have their say,’ Council’s Executive Manager of Corporate Management, Mark Arnold, said.

But the meeting also called on Council to address a number of other issues, including: a cost benefit analysis, a local procurement policy and alternative legal and Crown Lands advice.

The council has not yet indicated whether any of these additional issues were explored or considered.

The amended draft Expression of Interest – Market Licences now includes the following qualitative criteria for tender assessments:

a) Sample draft plan of management, including stallholder and product criteria, safety and site management – 20 per cent

b) Experience in the activity and of meeting licence conditions – 20 per cent

c) Knowledge of local market culture – 20 per cent

d) Experience and/or commitment to environmentally responsible operations and initiatives – 10 per cent

e) Experience in and/or commitment to socially responsible operations and initiatives, as per Council Policy 09/008: “Social Impact Assessment Policy”– 10 per cent

f) Licence fee – 10 per cent

g) Commitment to Public Value Objectives contained in Council’s Policy 5.51: ‘Markets on Council Owned and/or Controlled Land’ – 10 per cent.

Mr Arnold said Council wanted to ensure it provided a chance for community members to have their say on the amended criteria for granting market licences.

‘Letters have been sent notifying everyone who made a submission during the first exhibition period of the changes, and that the documentation is being exhibited again for comment,’ he said.

He added that the new draft policy would ensure that any money raised by Council through market licence rental fees for the use of Crown Reserves or Council owned land would be spent on improving the land and associated assets.

The documents will be on public exhibition from 19 April until 18 May and will shortly be available at community access points around the shire or on BSC’s website at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/public-exhibition.

Submissions should be in writing and addressed to the General Manager, Byron Shire Council, PO Box 219 Mullumbimby 2482 or sent by email to [email protected]. Emailed submissions to this address only will be acknowledged.

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