Vendors seeking to take over market

By Patrick O’Sullivan

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STALLS: The Farmers' Market started in Hastings in 2000 and was later taken over by Food Hawke's Bay.
PHOTO/FILE
STALLS: The Farmers' Market started in Hastings in 2000 and was later taken over by Food Hawke's Bay. PHOTO/FILE

Farmers' Market stallholders are hoping to wrest control of their market from governing body Food Hawke's Bay (FHB) at a special meeting on August 25.
The stallholders want a more direct say in the market's governorship and doubt the value they obtain from fees paid to FHB.
The Farmers' Market operates on Sundays at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds and, on Saturdays, stallholders can also operate at the Napier Urban Food Market.
Stallholder spokesman Murray Douglas said the amount paid to FHB had been an issue for several years.
Stallholders were concerned at compulsory FHB membership from $330 annually and a fee of about $50 when operating a site - a total of about $70,000 annually "which is the big issue".
"For that sort of money and the loss of independence, the value proposition has to be questioned," Mr Douglas said.
A remit for the meeting said there were likely to be staff issues to be negotiated "to minimise employment disruption where the activity is directly relevant to the operation of the market or its immediate administrative need".
Half the salaries of FHB's three employees are paid by the market, with half their time allocated to its administration and marketing.
The market was started in 2000 and later taken over by regional growth agency FHB.
FHB chairman Phil Pollett said the region benefited from the market and FHB.
"We have taken a lot of the Farmers' Market people and helped them grow their businesses into something quite significant - one of the early ones is The Village Press which is now quite a significant company trading internationally. They have been involved with FHB from day one."
He said the special general meeting would discuss some "holes in the system", which FHB acknowledged, "so let's do something about it".
Mr Douglas said a proposition for a more autonomous market had fallen on deaf ears, forcing the stallholders to try to form their own governing body.
A clause in the FHB constitution said only stallholders could vote on market matters and they were not looking to depart the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds venue in Hastings.
Mr Pollett said FHB was seeking a legal opinion on the clause but the call for a new governing body was "a fundamental change to the constitution" rather than "just a market matter".

Stallholders had good input into FHB and had the chance to be on its board.
"I know some people think FHB is a bit expensive but we have shown beyond doubt that we are $21,000 cheaper than if they did it themselves. All the administration is done by FHB and, if you put that out to market, you would pay a whole lot more. FHB actually subsidises the Farmers' Market to a certain extent, through its other sources of income."
Mr Douglas said stallholders just wanted to exercise their democratic right, as members of FHB, to ask that current two-tier management become one.
Mr Pollett said he doubted unhappy stallholders were a majority. The market had about 60 stallholders and just 15 signatories were needed to call the special meeting.
Mr Douglas said the current and two former chairmen of the market management committee were signatories and a lot more could have signed. "We are all members of FHB and we can decide on August 25 for the market to move to an independent body. Therefore FHB will not be doing the market, it will be done by the market's committee directly. For day-to-day issues, the market will just carry on as normal."
Mr Pollett said the dispute was "healthy stuff" for organisations such as FHB and the market.
"If they want to start their own market then they are welcome to do so but FHB will always have the Farmers' Market. We have a successful formula that has been going for 14 years."
Mr Douglas said after 14 years it was time for the market to "grow up and govern itself" and the board was reluctant to face the issue.
Mr Pollett said unhappy stallholders could join the proposed Saturday market in the Hastings CBD.
"FHB is not going to walk away from the market - we have too many people who don't want to move."
Mr Douglas said competition from other markets was another reason for change.
"The Farmers' Market has not evolved as it could - I think most people would say that. It really has to get quite nimble otherwise we won't keep the market - certainly not in the form we know.
"We have tried to make it a respectful sort of conversation but it is wrong to say what Phil is saying - that this group can go where they like - he has got it wrong.
"That is not what the resolution is about, that is not what the legal advice is about, so he has to be very cautious about that."
Mr Pollett said Mr Douglas might have a different opinion on what was happening.
"They have called a special general meeting and put forward some remits. We are carefully considering those, but they aren't a threat to the market at all.
"Our position is there will be a FHB Farmers' Market at the showgrounds for the next 14 years, and some."
Mr Douglas said he got involved with the issue because he was tired of hearing complaints and had "no beef either way".
"Who knows where all of this will go? But it is going to be an interesting conversation."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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