By CAMERON LUCADOU-WELLS
GREATER Dandenong councillors were to decide tonight whether to throw a $463,000 lifeline to revive the 147-year-old Dandenong Market.
The market’s board has asked the council to dip into the market’s
forecast $2 million surplus for 2013-14 to fund capital works and an
Board chairwoman Julie Busch says the market needs to become a “retail champion in the area”.
“The heart and soul of the market must be celebrated and colour and life extended and restored,” she says in her submission.
Proposed capital works include a $143,000 al fresco dining area and a renovated market square.
The board also wants to spend about $200,000 to promote Sunday
trading from October and to entice customers from Keysborough and
Springvale and suburbs further north and north-east.
The remaining funding is to cover security and overheads needed for the extra trading day on Sundays.
In a concession to rent protests and simmering anger among
stallholders, the board is offering rent-free Sunday trading for six
The board’s strategic plan for 2013, which was to be presented to
the council tonight, also proposes a children’s play area and an on-site
Cr Maria Sampey said stallholders’ rental arrears was “part of the
reason” she had supported replacing former market manager Savills with
the “board of experts” in July.
“Sunday trading is a trial for six months to see what happens,” she said.
“For those traders who employ people and have to pay time-and-a-half on Sundays, it might not work.
“We hope things will start to bear fruit.”
The board’s strategy acknowledges “significant” rental arrears by
struggling traders but notes they have fallen from $430,000 in September
to $397,000 in March.
The board says it aims to reduce rental arrears to $344,000 this
financial year and increase customer spending 10 per cent, improving the
council’s return by 5 per cent a year for the next five years.
It flags the possibility of opening on four consecutive days and
Friday nights instead of the current Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The strategic plan accepts that shoppers are being turned off by
the market’s difficult-to-access car park and time restrictions.
The council’s plans for a multi-deck car park on its Clow Street
site was “the long-term solution” but still several years away, the
report says. In the meantime, it will increase parking stays from two
hours to three and may introduce free Sunday parking.