Talks last week have failed to placate stallholders at two markets that operate out of Byron Bay’s Butler Street Reserve, which is due to be resumed for a council carpark and works depot next year.
A meeting was held last week between Byron Shire Council staff, councillors and market representatives but stallholders say that their voices aren’t being considered.
They also fear that they will be forced to relocate after their March 2016 lease expires.
The Echo previously reported that both Butler Street Reserve markets are in council’s sights owing to its paid parking scheme, which is soon to be rolled out.
Additionally, a works depot to accommodate the looming Byron Bay bypass has been earmarked at the western end of the reserve, which will also affect market operations.
Council staff maintain that no final decision on the design for the Butler Street Reserve carpark has been made, and talks are ongoing.
But Tane Allan, from the Rainbow Region Stallholders Association, says he is still concerned that his members have not been adequately considered and, more importantly, that his members are ‘not aware that council plans this to roll out as soon as November.’
‘Basically council are doing what they want,’ he said, ‘but they have conceded a bit of ground – for example the works depot will be near the toilet block at the western end of the ground.’
Another committee member, Helen Burns, went further, telling The Echo, ‘It is clear that coexistence is only going to be our fitting into whatever council decides.’
‘The proposed car park at Butler Street Reserve has now escalated from the original 40 spaces for businesses to 80 spaces.
‘The July 2015 meeting with Byron United [chamber of commerce] and council regarding this issue well and truly quashed both ideas.
‘Now we have in place the new proposal of a paid carpark for public usage at Butler Street Reserve, with space for 260 car spaces at $3 per hour, and capped at $20 per day between 6am and 6pm.
With nary a mention of the markets.’
Covered with gravel
Ms Burns says that Council staff advised, ‘80 per cent of the reserve would be covered with gravel.’
‘This will have a hugely detrimental impact on the ambience of the markets; not to speak of the gravel dust that, by the end of a seabreezy day, coats every inch of stock and every inch of skin right down to the eyeballs! It will be ghastly.
‘This makes a mockery of mayor Simon Richardson’s overwhelming support for the markets as an iconic Byron event and significant contributor to the local economy – as was pitched to stallholders at the Community Centre meeting on August 5, which was also attended by Council’s Phil Warner, Cr Paul Spooner and market management.
Meanwhile Mignon Frances from another stallholders group – the North Coast Market Stallholders Association, told The Echo that her members feel threatened by Council’s plans, ‘but we are in constant discussion with them.
’ Byron Markets manager Tess Cullen is more concilatory, and told The Echo, ‘At this stage it is good that Council is engaging and communicating with market management regarding the proposed use of Butler Street Reserve as a car park and market ground.
The impacts of the proposed Butler Street roadworks are, of course, also under consideration.
‘The lack of care and attention by Council to the market ground has been highlighted by the market management over many years.
Council has a great opportunity at this time to improve the condition of the reserve to achieve both a car park and continuation of an iconic market site.
‘This meeting was a good opportunity for stallholders and managers to outline key considerations to Council staff regarding the development and use of the grounds.
‘This includes maintaining existing grass cover and trees around the edge of the site, improved drainage for the ground, and a gravel cover that does not involve the use of bitumen.
‘The Byron Markets management will continue to work with Council to ensure the needs of the market and stallholders are a key consideration in decision making regarding Butler Street reserve developments.’
Rainbow Region Stallholders Association are holding a meeting for all stallholders after trading (4pm) at next Sunday’s Byron market to discuss the implications of Council’s latest scheme for Butler St Reserve.