Scottburgh Flea Market’s future

Councillor Edwin Baptie.

Notice of motion re proposed construction on flea market site Background and motivation

The Scottburgh Flea Market has been in operation on the site next to the Municipal offices for more than 10 years now. It first occupied the present site in 2004 and has become an institution in the town that attracts large numbers of locals and visitors every Saturday morning.

Having established itself as an iconic feature of the town, it adds substantial value as a social and recreational event, a vibrant economic opportunity for many local marketers, and an invaluable fundraising opportunity for many social benefit NPO’s.

Local estate agents have commented that it has been a decisive factor in the choice of prospective property owners. Fundamental to its success are: The central location in the town, allowing multiple access for a broad spectrum of the public, and an easy to locate venue. Many residents are within walking distance, a considerable factor for the many aged folk who see it as a weekly highlight. The substantial amount of public parking within the precinct, on the established parking levels, the kerbsides and the adjacent verges. The focal point, and shade bearing fig tree, that anchors it to the site.

These factors together form a unique combination that does not exist elsewhere in the town. To move the market to another location is likely to bring an end to its success and vibrancy. Many towns throughout South Africa have established local markets that are high profile tourist and economic drivers. We would do well to improve this market with better facilities such as paved surfaces and toilets , rather than place it at risk of failure, by taking away the very factors that make it so successful.

To move the market to another location is likely to bring an end to its success and vibrancy. Many towns throughout South Africa have established local markets that are high profile tourist and economic drivers.

The Municipality requires additional operational spaces to enable it to function optimally. In addition, the parking facilities are inadequate, and the Town Hall/Licensing/ Clinic precint is poorly laid out with growing congestion. The incorporation of Vulamehlo territories has exacerbated the situation and at present a dedicated space for council meetings does not exist. All these considerations need to be factored into planning for the future administration and governance.

The existing sites are not used in an effective manner and with better planning and layouts it is possible to meet these demands in a cost effective manner, without using the flea market site.

There are further options that could be considered and it would be wise to consider the existing municipal structures that exist elsewhere, when planning the deployment of resources. Given the dire need for roads and stormwater infrastructure, maintenance and upgrades, the priorities for budget allocation must be service delivery before creature comfort. A council chamber on its own should not be the priority when resources are so limited.

It is however possible to integrate a chamber with additional operational space requirements. There is major public resistance towards the removal of the market from the current site because of the unique features as described above. A rezoning of the site is a legal requirement if the construction on the flea market site is to proceed. It is therefore very likely that the rezoning will be met with a large number of objections.

This will delay construction, and if the matter proceeds to litigation, the delays could result in fruitless and wasteful expenditure on a large scale. Any brazen attempts to reject public concerns will foment division and discontent, a scenario that cannot be in anyone’s interest.

MOTION

For the reasons described above, I hereby move that:

• The resolution to build on the flea market site be rescinded

• The council reviews its priorities, planning and budget, with a view to better utilize the existing structures and spaces, to meet its operational and governance needs.

• The municipality engages in a public consultation exercise as part of its future planning and budget review.

 

  AUTHOR
Councillor EV Baptie

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