THE existing operators of the Aireys Inlet market have been chosen as the preferred option to run the market into the future, including during the winter months.
Earlier this year, the Surf Coast Shire began an expression of interest process to find parties interested in operating a market at the Anderson Roadknight Hall under a three-year licence agreement (with two further options of two years each) and holding up to 17 markets per year.
Elizabeth Stapleton, who ran the market for the previous 12 months, was the only applicant to the EOI process, and councillors endorsed her as the licensee at their meeting last month.
The endorsement was generally on the same terms as advertised under the EOI, with three additions – two of which appear to acknowledge Mrs Stapleton’s concerns (expressed earlier to the council) that the lower number of visitors in Aireys Inlet during winter meant a market held at that time would not be viable.
Under the licence, no more than 65 stalls can be included, of which five will be available for community benefit at no charge to the stall users.
At least one market shall be held each year between July 1 and September 30.
In addition, the licensee must seek to hold at least one market a month during July, August and September each year, but if insufficient stalls (less than 30 paid stalls) are booked by June 30, then the licensee should notify the council in writing that three markets are not viable.
Speaking at the council meeting, Cr Margot Smith said the Aireys Inlet market was highly valued by the community and its stallholders.
“It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that some are not as supportive (of the market) because they’re concerned about their business, but what we’re actually doing here is providing some certainty around it.”
She said one of the objectives of the council was encouraging people to visit the coast during winter.
Shire mayor David Bell declared a conflicting personal interest, as he operates the Torquay farmers’ market under an existing licence agreement with the shire, and left the chambers during debate on the issue.