My Position on the Future of The Central Market

An open letter to The Central Market Traders.

Dear Central Market Trader,

A number of you have asked about my position on the future of the Central Market.
The Central Market is very important to the City of Adelaide, to the people of Adelaide and, of course, to you the traders. Earlier this year I travelled through Europe and the UK. Our Central Market should be there among the best, liveliest and most atmospheric among all the markets I visited, including the Barcelona Market and the Borough Market in London.

The main issue for the Market is the loss of market share. Despite a large increase in the CBD’s residential population (8000 in 9 years) and an increase in the City’s workforce (30,000 in 10 years), traders still tell me that their sales have stagnated.
Here’s how I think we can make some good, positive, profitable changes:

1. Create a Central Market Management Authority

The current Central Market Committee consists of Councillors, ACC staff and elected trader representatives. I think this structure is wrong.

I believe the Council should establish a Central Market Management Authority, like the Rundle Mall Management Authority. The Central Market Management Authority could hire its own manager and staff and work with you, the traders, to decide how and where your marketing money is used. A Central Market Management Authority could manage the leases, the product mix and the trading hours of the Market. (Personally, I don’t agree with 7 day trading in the Central Market. I think it’s unnecessary and not in the interests of the Market or the traders.)
The Board of the Authority would be appointed by the Council and consist of people who know about retailing and fresh-food markets. It should also include people experienced and qualified in all those areas related to running a major business. The Board would set out the business plan and the marketing plan for the Market and be accountable to the Council for the effective management of the Market.

I do not support the Board having Councillors or Council staff on it unless there is an agreed need for one Councillor to liaise between the Council and the Board.

Members should be paid an allowance for their work, similar to that paid to members of the Rundle Mall Authority.

2. Improvements

We all agree the Central Market is looking tired and needs an injection of new life. If I am elected Lord Mayor I will lead the campaign to inject that new life

Our market needs major capital works like:

  • more cold storage close to the Market itself
  • air-conditioning
  • more car-parking – perhaps a set-down and pick-up zone for shoppers on Grote and Gouger Street

I support change and improvements but we must not allow our Central Market to be turned into a sterile, fluoro-lit Westfield shopping mall.

If I am elected Lord Mayor, my promises to you are these:

  • I will drive the agenda I have outlined in this letter
  • I will be available to account for my actions directly to you. I know we will not always agree and I might disappoint some of you because of a particular stand I take on an issue. However, I will front up and explain my actions and reasons to you directly.

Anyone knows my history knows that I’m not afraid to put my case. I also listen to constructive criticism and if I’m persuaded by a better argument, I’m not afraid to change my mind.

I hope you take time to read this letter. Please call me or email me if you would like to discuss these matters or if you have any questions.


Ralph Clarke

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