Monday, 29 August 2016

The Anti- renewal Movement Is Becoming A Bit Of A Circus

NOTE: This article has been re-published due to additional comments.

Regrettably the QVM Anti-Renewal debate has become a bit of a circus and that means that the very important process of reversing market decline could be hampered at least in the short term. The involvement of unions, celebrities, and others looking for quick media bites is not really helping
 the process of improving our market.

Shane Scanlan's editorial in the CBD News this week raises some very interesting criticism of the "ridiculous debate". He refers to the reluctance by some to accept that the market is in terminal decline and asks "if you love the market, why would you resist efforts to ensure its future?"

The answer is that there is probably little professional retail logic in the anti renewal group. Their various meetings have come up with lots of passionate criticism but very few answers. It is ironic that they are now directing their criticism at Lord Mayor,Robert Doyle, who in 2012 initiated the move to reinvest in our market after years of council neglect. No matter what you think of the man or his politics he is obviously committed to QVM survival. The professionalism of the QVM Renewal Master Plan and the undoubted talent surrounding its implementation is testament to that commitment.

Does the anti-group have anything to offer traders? Well, yes it does. One of its focuses is protecting traders. Let's be honest, the commitment to a five year tenancy guarantee for every trader has come about at least partly because of their actions. But this all about balance. Fixing our market doesn't rely just on protecting traders. We need to get the retail bit right. I wouldn't want to be a protected trader in a market that closes its doors because it failed to meet the changing needs of consumers. And shouldn't we place more faith in the ability of the designers of the world's most livable city to get a renewal right over a group of celebrities and well-meaning shoppers who would prefer to do nothing?

The current renewal plan is for limited change to our market and certainly an adherence to its heritage as a public market. The bulk of the money will be spent on provision of underground services that will enable our food traders to operate more efficiently. It will just be a better public market with a few modern concessions and a chance at convincing more Melburnians, and tourists, that it is worth shopping here. If the anti group could come up with real workable solutions then maybe we could listen to what they say. Until then they are just part of a circus that has little to offer traders, or consumers generally. And that is a shame.

By Greg Smith

28/08/2016 20:16:06     The Anti- renewal Movement Is Becoming A Bit Of A Circus          "The article makes mention of the anti renewal movement being a 'circus' three times.
Perhaps mention should also be made that the renewal movements repeated ignoring of 'anti's' is what has created and given voice to the group.
This started with a consultation progress that lacked any real intent to involve the community in discussion be it traders or customers.
Traders have not been effectively communicated with over the consultation period and there has effectively been a 'we know what's best for you, do as we say' attitude towards them from both City of Melbourne and QVM Management.
I am well aware that we need renewal, however when I look back at the points David O'Neill made about what is needed for a successful market renewal it becomes clear to me that we are heading down the path towards being a market that fails post renewal.  The key point that sticks out in my mind is his statement that traders and management must work together and this is definitely not happening.  For fresh produce at least far too many decisions are happening without any trader knowledge or involvement."      

Thanks for your input and apologies for the multi reference to “circus”.
I have extracted from David O’Neils recommendations the points where he referred to working together. Here they are –
·        .- You should be open and transparent with traders and customers
·        - Communication, communication, communication
·        - The challenge is – getting the staff and traders to work TOGETHER
·        - Traders must be part of the decision-making on some things, many things  – not things where there is a conflict of interest.
·        - The more you involve people the better – yes it costs time and money – but you must involve them in the planning.

O’Neil definitely talked about working together although he drew the line at decision-making that might involve a conflict of interest for traders. Transparency would seem to be the key here. Perhaps we should know what decisions that management feels may involve conflict. It would certainly help our understanding and that could be a good subject for discussion with Malcolm McCullough on a Thursday afternoon. –

Thanks again – Ed.

29/08/2016 08:03:06     Consultation Process   "Lets be honest here.
The real problem here is not the consultation process (if only it were that simple).
If traders (and community members) look at the guidelines for public consultation processes as established by the International Association for Public Participation (iap2) they will note that there are varying levels of input possible in a 'Public Participation' process.
The real issue here is that some traders and members of the community are not happy with level 1 (inform) level 2 (consult) level 3 (collaborate) but demand level 4 participation (empower).
They may be right, but to be able to argue successfully that you should be engaged at that level you will rightly need some very (very) compelling reasons to justify that level of involvement. Given traders unique understanding of what happens on the trading floor, I honestly believe that good sound advice from traders is essential to getting things right.
But given the difficulty for traders to distance themselves enough from their personal  business interests, their willingness (and ability) to look too far into the future and their ability to truly have an in depth understanding of the complexities from both an infrastructure as well as a global retailing perspective I doubt that the argument for a level 4 involvement is a 'compelling argument'.
Its time to stop the politicking and myopic approach to this very essential discussion on the future of the market and have serious in depth discussion on the many single issues that need trader input so as to ensure that the least amount of 'errors' are made as we collaborate to ensure the future of the market.
We cannot do that by only looking in the rear vision mirror or taking an 'as is' approach to the markets future, or by masking the real issues with politicking, flag waving and obstructionism.        Ivano                                                                                                       
Thanks for your input Ivano - Ed

29/08/2016 11:38:09     Re: Ivano on consultation       "Perhaps it's just me but I'm not aware of traders who are asking for  or demanding level 4 - empower.  As traders we are currently floating between level 1&2, more often stationed at 1 despite being promised interaction which to my interpretation would see us between 2&3. 

For the process to work traders have to have level 2/3 participation which you have also agreed with - ""Given traders unique understanding of what happens on the trading floor, I honestly believe that good sound advice from traders is essential to getting things right.""

The prime example of not meeting those levels for me is the ongoing saga of what will be done to H&I sheds, despite the food traders insisting that the one thing that absolutely could not be done was the splitting up of the fresh produce quadrant. 

I am all for renewal and it should have happened many, many years ago, the market is in a sorry state overall at the minute.  As much as I would like to see the market improve, trader input (not control) is essential as a renewal without proper trader input will be just as much of a death sentence as no renewal at all. 

What if originally mentioned in reference to the article was that the 'circus' has been created by a lack of information being shared to the various groups, creating the anger & frustration which makes the process impossible.  Would a better consultation process stop the negativity from the customer group? Probably not, but it wouldn't have such large groups of traders offside with the process."

Great input. Thank you - Ed

29/8/2016 12:45  Consultation         "For what its worth I agree entirely with the need for meaningful trader involvement at level 2/3 on the iap2 spectrum."   Ivano

Thanks Ivano - Ed

09/09/2016 12:41:15     Anti renewal movement movement is becoming a bit of a circus article      "We are writing in response to your ""Anti Renewal Movement is Becoming a Bit of a Circus"" article. 

If you had attended any one of the many meetings that S.T.A.G., NUW and Friends of Queen Victoria Market have held over the last six months, you would realise that none of the above groups are anti renewal at all. They are just not happy with the current renewal plan put forward by Robert Doyle.

May I remind you that S.T.A.G. has over 80% of stall holders and businesses in the market signed up and further to that, hundreds have now joined the NUW. Yes, we all have a good laugh and shake our heads when Doyle and his cohorts, including Rob Adams, get on the radio and say it's only about half a dozen unhappy traders.

We realise that you are out of the loop and seem to be getting a lot of your information from newspaper articles. May we inform you that S.T.A.G. has regular  meetings with Councillors, Unions, Ministers and Federal and State Politicians. You have mentioned celebrities and yes, many have approached us. Furthermore, we anticipate that you will be hearing a lot more from them in the weeks to come.

Recently, many QVM traders who are members of the NUW met at Trades Hall to vote on a list of claims for a redevelopment of the QVM. This will be released soon and presented to the market CEO. We have also worked very closely with the Melbourne Lord Mayor candidate Phil Cleary and his team. This includes trader Michael Caiafa who is number one on the Cleary ticket. Together, they will be discussing the traders list of claims. Team Cleary will be using these and other great ideas as one of their policies for a fairer, less expensive and more efficient redevelopment. 

We are not a circus. On the contrary, S.T.A.G. is a well organised, dedicated group and the majority of stall holders at the market which we represent are not a bunch of clowns. They know when they see a land grab and a crazy development plan that pleases the developers more than them and the community. That's why they have stood up and created a voice.

The team at S.T.A.G.   "          The team at S.T.A.G.                                                                                                                            
Thanks for your input Team At STAG. And I agree the majority of traders at QVM are not clowns. - Ed