Tuesday, 23 April 2013

the power of one

a hamilton icon will be gone after this saturday.  the frankton market has been going since 1986, and has been a place where the community comes together.  i've spent several mornings there myself, campaigning for political causes.  the thing with this market is that it has been a place where the poorer people go, as well as many people of colour.  it's a good place to engage with people who are often alienated from the political process.

the markets have clashed with a large hamiltonian business called forlongs - a family-owned retail business that owns quite a bit of space in the main frankton shopping area, including 2 big buildings and associated carparks.  the family is one of established wealth, and has the funds to use the environment court to shut down the markets, due to a lack of resource consents being held by the permit holder.

since the permit holder for the markets, mr vinod bhika, doesn't have money to fight the case, he has chosen instead to close the market after this saturday.  the dispute between the market & forlongs has been running for some six years.  one of the issues for forlongs is that they don't open on sunday, for religious reasons, so saturday is their main day for weekend trading.  therefore, they concerned about are the lack of parking for their regular customers because of the market, and theft.

they suggested that the market be shifted to sunday.  but the same religious reasons that apply to forlongs are likely to apply to many who either run stalls or go to the markets.  and so, after years of dispute, forlongs has taken this legal step to shut the market down.  they aren't supported by other businesses in the area, who appreciate the extra foot-traffic.  it's not only the small businesses but also the stall holders, many of whom are likely to depend on the income from the market, who will suffer.

given the depth of feeling about this locally, it's likely that forlongs will also suffer.  the "save frankton markets" facebook page is now up to 2400 likes.  many people are talking of boycotting forlongs.

i personally find it reprehensible that one big business in the area has the power to drastically affect the incomes of so many others, others who are likely to depend heavily on what they can earn once a week at the market.

this shows clearly how the structures and institutions of our country favour those who already have wealth & power, while a whole community struggles to fight back.  the consistently negative publicity hasn't yet affected the decision of forlongs to pursue this case.  let's hope that continued pressure leads to a better result.  you can sign a petition here to support the market.

No comments: