Truce saves Frankton market

By Danielle Nicholson

The Frankton Markets was saved in the same co-operative spirit in which they were established 27 years ago.

The protracted battle appears to be over after Forlongs and market organisers began work on a joint proposal to council to move the markets further down Commerce St.

Market organiser Vinod Bhikha says Frankton Hotel publican Graham 'Moose' Whiting approached him on what was to have been the last market to offer a disused part of hotel for use by the stall holders.

Mr Bhikha and Frankton Business Association chairman Jim Ashton took the offer to Forlongs director Terry Forlong, who was supportive of moving the main part of the market up the west end of Commerce St.

The trio has worked on a proposal it will jointly present to council, formalising its plans to close Commerce St from Kent St to High St for the market every Saturday.

It is also proposing stall holders could continue to set up along the rest of the south side of Commerce St, as well as using the hotel space and a large car park offered by St Vincent de Paul at the rear of the hotel.

As part of the proposal, Mr Forlong offered the use of a transportation engineer who has come up with a plan for traffic management and safety requirements, which council needs as part of its approval process.

The market was established by Forlongs patriarch Ivan Forlong and a Frankton businessman who saw the value in drawing shoppers to Frankton on a Saturday to benefit retailers in the precinct.

The trio was to present the proposal to council this week.

Mr Ashton said there was "a fair bit of work to do" before stallholders could set up in the hotel. The area would need to be cleaned out and a couple of non-load bearing walls removed. A working group being formed by city councillor Angela O'Leary would help refurbish the area with murals relating to historic Frankton.

The three men were pleased to have put the past behind them. "We've built a bridge and moved on," said Mr Ashton. "We're neighbours, we have to."

Mr Bhikha said "on a personal level there's been no acrimony" between market organisers and Mr Forlong.

"We want to promote Frankton for all retailers and ensure the market works for all of us," said Mr Ashton. "The market is alive and well and it will be here for a long time."

The men aim to have the new format in place by June 1.

Mr Ashton said the years of uncertainty around the market had an impact on the number of stall holders. Where there were once about 70, that number has dipped to about 50.

He hoped the rejuvenated format would encourage more stall holders to set up.

While the proposal and new layout is finalised, the market will continue in its present format every Saturday.

- Hamilton News

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