The Lord Mayor admitted he was a little confused by QVM stakeholder approaches at Tuesday night’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting. Customer groups were concerned that QVM Renewal was going to destroy aspects of our market, the Lower Market group actually engaged a solicitor to make their point that they were being poorly treated, while PE & SL Traders said "bring it on - we are ready to evaluate the detail of renewal right now”. Let's take a quick look at each of those approaches.
The Friends of the Market group have maintained a long anti-renewal campaign. They have been described as very protective of traders and if the answer for traders lay just in protection then perhaps their role would be more relevant. However most traders understand that out future will rely on entrepreneurial solutions that make our market stronger. Becoming more relevant to our customers will require changes to how we do business and a comprehensive renewal program should provide the professional guidance needed to achieve success.
The Lower Market group of traders have engaged a solicitor to address their concerns and for many introducing the legal element has uncomfortable connotations. It is true that reaching a considered agreement may be more difficult when one party becomes more adversarial. But, for those of you who have read the groups rather long winded submission it has one clear positive. There is little doubt left about what concerns Dairy Hall traders. They may have just saved a lot of time and effort later on by making a clear statement about what their issues are, and what they are seeking.
The PE & SL Traders want to start evaluating renewal possibilities right now. They have asked for components of renewal to be identified for "early adoption". Their submission stated that retail recession was placing an intolerable burden on traders and that the Master Plan, while not strong on detail, has identified many areas that could be identified, evaluated, and even trialled right now with some moderate resourcing.
We have interesting times ahead of us. Councillors went to great pains to assure traders of their good intent for the market and their desire to consider the needs of traders at all stages. Cr. Mayne raised the possibility of some form of compensation for traders who may be adversely impacted by individual projects. But one message is quite clear - Council are committed to the success of this project. They described it as "stoic determination to succeed". Success is what we are all seeking.