THE South Beach Sunset Markets look like getting a reprieve after operator Georgie Adeane was told by Fremantle council they wouldn’t be allowed to run this summer.
With Ms Adeane’s licence due to expire next month, council officers told her earlier this week that under the city’s Covid recovery plan, she was to be treated as a pop-up event and as such wouldn’t be allowed to compete against bricks and mortar businesses.
When she announced the decision on her Facebook page, which has more than 25,000 followers, it’d be fair to say the council copped a pasting.
“The most stagnant and self-serving council in WA,” thundered Kelly McManus.
“They really know how to stuff things up, come on it’s a great evening and we all look forward to it,” fellow follower Michael Pritchard added.
“Whoever made this call is a muppet,” … and we could go on.
But south ward councillor Andrew Sullivan said after he and mayor Brad Pettitt met with staff on Tuesday, an item is being rushed through to this Wednesday’s full council meeting. It had originally been scheduled for next month’s operations committee, but that wouldn’t have given Ms Adeane sufficient time to run any festivals before Christmas. Cr Sullivan says he feels the markets will get the go-ahead given the huge outcry.
He said the council’s Covid plan was intended to protect bricks and mortar businesses who paid rates, but his belief is that overall the markets would bring enough people into South Fremantle to benefit most businesses, even restaurants that would pick up the overflow.
“These places are largely full on a Saturday night, and you can’t really get fuller than full,” he joked.
But Cr Sullivan said the city had also been subsidising Ms Adeane’s electricity costs to the tune of $30,000 a year, and he says other businesses not receiving that sort of support might find it unfair.
Late last year the city suggested putting the licence out to tender but that was stalled by Covid-19.
Ms Adeane says having to compete against other businesses for a concept she “thought of, created and worked hard to achieve” was daunting and unfair.
The former councillor said she was heartened by the “huge community support” she’d received this week.
“I feel strongly that things started to go wrong when South Beach Sunset Market was changed from being categorised as a ‘market’ to an ‘event’,” she said.
“This put the market in the same standing as the Beer Festival or other expensive gated events where patrons pay a hefty entry fee and the organisers make large amounts of money.
“In contrast the market is a free community event where the overheads are high and I try to keep stallholder fees low so that they can make a living.”
She says if overheads go up, the markets won’t survive and vendors and the community will miss out.