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Byron Shire
August 1, 2021

Who’s bullying whom over market site?

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Jules Claydon, Byron Market stallholder, Crabbes Creek.

With all due respect to BCC staff loyalty it’s heartening to hear that management is implementing a new culture of anti bullying. However, these comments are made by relative newcomers to BCC and the question has to be asked: What caused malcontent and disharmony within the organisation in the first place? Why should a group of stallholders form an alliance and unionise themselves within such a harmonious management structure?

Since 2015, we have seen not one, but three market managers stand in exactly the same place where Ms Hardman is now. In fact, most of the market staff, bar one, are newcomers who extol the virtues of their employers and denigrate certain stallholders as trouble makers or conspiracy theorists.

Why the need for an anti-bullying policy now? What sort of management culture finds the need for such a thing? Why are politicians involved in BCC management affairs?

Because some of us questioned why we needed to move our market to a new location. Some of us wanted to stay at Butler Street Reserve and instead of management support we were met with resistance, opposition, and bullying tactics from management staff. There was no ‘Code of Conduct’ then, and we had to write to Mr Spooner requesting that these tactics cease. The effect of this caused division in the stallholder community. There were those staunchly opposed to Butler St Reserve who gained the support of management, and the rest of us who could see no reason why we needed to move, were ostracised, and are now referred to as troublemakers and conspiracy theorists.

It was clear to us that BCC management would not support our cause in any way, and the alternative was to go it alone. Surprisingly, support has come from unexpected areas, the road to uncover the truth of the matter has been difficult and, yes, a political minefield. As stallholders, we are in unfamiliar territory, but we’ve all lived locally in the area for a long time and have a certain fondness for Butler St Reserve. I, for one, could never understand why, if the community trashed it in the first place, they wished to escape the responsibility of restoring it.

We, very obviously, did not fit within the overall vision BCC management had for the markets, otherwise their support to save the site would have been forthcoming. We surmised that it was perhaps Mr Spooner’s ‘many hats’ he wore – ie BCC General Manager, Councillor, Labor candidate – which further confused the issue. It was always difficult to get a straight answer on anything, and on the council meetings we attended to put forward our submissions for the reserve, he seemed to vehemently oppose it, calling it a ‘toxic waste dump’.

Well, that theory backfired. Yes, it is a toxic waste dump and now council have to clean it up!

As I said, help came from unexpected areas and politicians got involved, but I’m glad the reserve got saved. I oppose your statement which I think was directed at us about bullying, because I can assure you I and our committee members have always operated with diplomacy and integrity and your statements are further evidence of BCC’s attempts to destroy our reputation amongst the stallholder community.

I believe that the management culture at BCC would benefit from a reflective look within itself to see how it can best unite the stallholder community rather than create further division by its oppositional methodology.

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  1. Take a moment to read the letter, read it slowly, calm the emotions you might feel rising, slowly, slowly, word by word, give it your best attention and voila, you will see there is another side to what’s been going on!

    My heartfelt thanks to you Jules Claydon for putting fingers to keyboard.

  2. Jules,

    “We’ve all lived locally in the area for a long time and have a certain fondness for Butler St Reserve. I, for one, could never understand why, if the community trashed it in the first place, they wished to escape the responsibility of restoring it.”

    I’m wondering after 30-odd years why haven’t the stallholders or the Butler St community done anything to restore Butler St Reserve? I’ve been down there almost every week for two years now, watering trees, replacing trees that have died or been run over, and replacing tree guards. I’ve never seen a stallholder or a member of the Butler St community in those two years. Mind you, I’ve never seen anyone from BCC or the market managers either.

    A lot of people have a lot to say about beautifying Butler St Reserve, but no-one actually does anything.


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