TENDER GRIEF: Dumped market operators bitter
THE former operators of Maclean Community Markets are disappointed they have been unable have a final, public handover of proceeds to the charities the event has supported for more than 30 years.
The small committee of local people who ran the markets had not adequately filled out a tender application for Clarence Valley Council and early on Saturday, May12, learned that day's market would be the final one under their control.
Maclean's Irons family has been a driving force in the group for much of the time, with Betty Irons and her late husband Errol handling much the day-to-day running of the market.
Her son, David, had offered to act as a consultant for the markets during its tender discussions with the council.
But Mr Irons said contrary to the council's claim it had warned the committee it would lose control of the markets, Mrs Irons believed matters had been sorted out.
"Because I've had a bit more experience dealing with councils down here (Sydney) I offered to help out dealing the the council, but Mum said everything was OK," he said.
Mr Irons said the most galling thing for the committee was it could not have a final handover to the charities and organisations the markets had contributed to over the years.
"We would have liked to have a public handover at the markets, but that won't be possible now," he said.
"They'll get their money, but it will probably be posted out to them as a cheque."
He said the Lions Club would take over the markets with no assets.
"Over the years all the money raised from the stallholders at the market had gone to Lower Clarence charities, bush fire brigades and schools," he said.
"When the Lions come in all the assets from this committee will be distributed into the community."
Mr Irons said the committee felt the council had not kept the committee members informed of its decisions.
"I know they had a meeting with the Maclean Lions Club two or three weeks ago to discuss their plans," he said.
"But they didn't tell anyone on the committee until about 7.30am last Saturday (May 12)."
Mr Irons also accused the council of making negotiations more difficult than they needed to to be.
"They'd call meetings in Grafton, requiring committee members to travel there, when there is a council office in Maclean," he said.
"Why couldn't the meeting have held on site, surely the council knows where the library carp ark is."
Mr Irons said the bitterness of the dispute could affect the markets in the future.
"The Lions will be running the markets in the same place at the same time, but maybe some of the stall holders won't be there," he said.
A council spokesperson said the council had little to add to its earlier statement.
Last week its works and civil director Troy Anderson said the council had tried to work with the previous operator to rectify the tender application to operate the markets, but the council did not receive information to show the operator would comply with the tender and market policy.
"We did what we could to get them to submit a tender that met (the) council's requirements, but unfortunately that didn't happen," he said.
"After issues about the tender came before a council meeting in December last year, we wrote to the operators in February inviting them to a meeting to discuss ways they could meet the tender requirements."
Mr Anderson said the council received a response, but it fell short of the requirements.