The Moruya Country Market is the subject of a takeover bid, with a rival group seeking to the right to run the popular Saturday money spinner.
Moruya Rotary has expressed interest in taking over the running of the Riverside Park market, but the bid has drawn fire from long-term managers and stall holders.
The bid has been submitted to Eurobodalla Shire Council, with letters of support from the Moruya Business Chamber and Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla (SAGE).
“We have an interest in doing it right for the community and getting the business chamber and the shire in on it as well,” Rotary spokesman Rohan Gleeson said.
“We want it to be transparent and to grow the markets.”
The expression of interest states the following:
“It is with that passion that the Moruya Rotary Club wishes to foster the further development and integration of the markets within our community and believes Rotary is in a unique position to allow this to happen.
“The Moruya Rotary Club would work with the SAGE Committee to promote the sale of local produce providing local producers with an extra opportunity to sell their produce locally. This will, in time, have a very positive impact on employment in the local area. We see the development of a ‘Local Street’ at the markets as a key initiative to promoting our local growers, bakers and makers.”
SAGE president Stuart Whitelaw said Saturday restrictions on growers had led to the establishment of the Tuesday Farmers Market.
“They did us a favour and forced us to start the farmers market,” he said.
“There was supposed to be a ‘food street’, where local growers could sell, but nothing came of it.
“Farmers felt the markets weren’t working for them and thought that they would give a farmer’s market a crack.
“There is room for improvement at the markets and we want to see a more local focus on food.”
Stallholder Brian Smith wants the market left as is.
“It is run in-house, by dedicated local stall holders, who have the best interests of the market at heart and making sure (it) is not flooded by any old trash and treasure stall,” Mr Smith said
“It will become just another Rotary market, to be lost in the Rotary crowd.
“MCM is the best weekly Saturday morning market on the South Coast.
“Give it a year under Rotary and that will end, 18 months at most.
“MCM is non-profit and donates locally, so what exactly is Rotary offering that’s so different?
“With Rotary a percentage of profits will no longer flow directly to local needs, but will leave Moruya for interstate and International Rotary destinations.
“Rotary already has markets which are not anywhere near as successful as MCM. Why is that?
“Why would anybody in their right minds want to upset an obvious success story unless it is a grab for the funds - $75,000 Council fees each year, insurance fees, and thousands more to local needs, so successful is MCM and it’s proven track record since it started 35+ years ago.
“Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg.”
Secretary Kay Nash agrees and said stalls should be capped at 140.
“We can’t expand it any more because it will affect the shops,” she said.
“We have run it successfully for 20 years, and now there is a chance it could be in the hands of people who don’t have the experience,” she said.
She said that she had had “very good feedback” about the current market set-up.
“A lot of the stallholders are not happy (with the takeover plans), and some have written to council about it,” she said.