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South Melbourne Market stallholders face rent hike of up to 30 per cent from Port Phillip Council

“We’ve by no means ever queried about rental will increase, and we’ve understood,” he mentioned. “[But] it’s fairly robust in the meanwhile.”

Zahos acknowledged that the committee didn’t put his lease up throughout the 2020 and 2021 COVID-19 lockdowns and that he anticipated a rise this yr.

Nevertheless, he mentioned after income loss because of the pandemic and will increase in prices on account of inflation, the instructed quantity was extraordinary. He additionally declined to make the quantity public.

Contemporary produce stalls remained open throughout the lockdowns, whereas different stalls have been compelled to shut.

The opposite stallholders who spoke to The Sunday Age did so on the situation of anonymity, out of concern it may have an effect on negotiations.

One girl, whose lease may enhance by about 30 per cent, accused the committee of being bullies.

“They’re primarily going to ship our companies bust … throughout a recession, throughout a pandemic,” she mentioned.

The girl mentioned she felt pressured to offer her monetary information.

“It’s outrageous, disgusting behaviour. We’re being handled like children,” she mentioned.

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One other stallholder, whose lease may enhance by about 40 per cent, known as the transfer a “shake down”.

“They’re attempting to attract blood from a stone,” he mentioned.

“Earlier than you understand it, the face of the market will change perpetually to a glorified meals courtroom as a result of takeaway meals or large chains would be the solely factor that may survive.”

A fourth stallholder mentioned costs may quickly be as excessive as on the Stonnington Council-run Prahran Market, whereas one other mentioned the method had induced him excessive stress. “It’s been hell,” he mentioned.

Port Phillip Council owns and operates the South Melbourne Market. The land it’s on was made obtainable below a crown grant for a normal market in 1867.

Mayor Marcus Pearl mentioned the council supplied $1,193,725 in rental help to stallholders impacted by the COVID-19 lockdowns and that the lease will increase have been the primary in three years.

“The fact is that it’s costly to run and preserve a market of this dimension and complexity,” he mentioned. “This implies we have now to extend rents to satisfy our obligation to ratepayers to maintain the market financially sustainable.”

Pearl mentioned the council aimed to maintain rents as inexpensive as attainable for merchants and that almost all would face a 3.5 per cent rise.

He mentioned the committee took into consideration the general public good thing about the market and that monetary information have been requested to make sure the stalls may stay viable.

The committee’s constitution calls the market one of many council’s “prime infrastructure belongings” and notes its intention to develop it as a “premier procuring vacation spot”.

“The market is an integral a part of [the] council’s long run monetary sustainability and, as such, should proceed to function profitably and competitively,” it says.

Shoppers Keren Amor, Terry Lees and Linda Pankhurst at South Melbourne market on Saturday.

Buyers Keren Amor, Terry Lees and Linda Pankhurst at South Melbourne market on Saturday.Credit score:Simon Schluter

On Saturday, the market was bustling with individuals, some there to do their weekly store, others to browse or met mates.

Terry Lees, who has been procuring at the marketplace for 30 years and now visits 3 times every week, mentioned if costs elevated he would store at different markets extra usually, together with the Queen Victoria Market.

“This [market] can be much less aggressive with Vic Market,” the South Melbourne native mentioned. “It’s going to drive some individuals out as a result of they don’t need to put the costs up and [make the market] dearer.”

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Keren Amore mentioned she did her essential store at Preston Market, which had decrease costs, and that she got here to South Melbourne for a number of choose specialty items. The Northcote native mentioned she would nonetheless go to if costs elevated.

Common Linda Pankhurst, who lives on St Kilda Highway, mentioned she too would nonetheless store on the market, however that she frightened about individuals on decrease incomes and for the stallholders.

“Lots of these guys have actually struggled, particularly over the past couple of years,” she mentioned.

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