THE founder of South Beach’s busy Sunset Markets says she’s so angry at how she’s been treated by Fremantle council she might not have the enthusiasm to run them again – even if offered a million-dollar incentive.
Former councillor Georgie Adeane has been operating the market since 2012, but says she felt “cheated” when the council insisted on allowing other operators to bid for the lease in August. The council wanted to reduce its $30,000 annual subsidy so Ms Adeane didn’t put in her own bid, and last week the application period closed without any other takers.
“They took the stance of, ‘we’re giving you all this money, and someone else might be able to do it better’,” she said.
Ms Adeane says she asked “hundreds of times” what was driving the council’s decision but got radio silence.
“It’s so frustrating; I never got a satisfactory answer.
“That’s what makes me really angry.”
Earlier this week the council released a statement with the optimistic headline “South Beach markets not closed”, saying it was still keen to work with Ms Adeane or other potential operators to see what support was needed.
The council said the lack of takers might have been due to concerns about disruptions caused by Covid.
“We are exploring a number of options to progress the situation and hope to find a solution that suits everyone into the future,” the statement said.
The markets were initially located on Bathers Beach before the council forced a move to South Beach in 2015, where they operate Saturday evenings over summer and attract thousands of punters; they make the area “come alive”, Ms Adeane says.
The markets’ 30-odd stalls employed over 100 people, as well as musicians and other live entertainment – all now in limbo, she said.
“All those people are really hurting after Covid. It’s such a shame.”
Ms Adeane revealed the council’s current offer was to waive the hire fee for the beach and Wilson Park, but the operator would have to provide bins, toilets, security and power, which she says will put her “in the red”.
“The thing is now, I’m so angry with the council that I’ve lost enthusiasm,” Ms Adeane said.
“Even if they said to me, “here’s a million dollars”, I’m not sure if I would want to.”
Ms Adeane says a change of guard was needed in the upcoming elections if the city was to avoid losing more of its cultural icons.
“I think they’ve lost touch,” Ms Adeane said. “They are making bad decision after bad decision.
“They haven’t got their eye on the ball and it’s a slippery slope.”