Market expelled from high school

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2014

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The Southern Farmers Market is facing eviction from Southland Boys' High by the Ministry of Education.

The Sunday morning community market has been held at the school for seven years, but its future location is now unclear after being "evicted" from the site by the ministry.

Southern Farmers Market committee member Marianne Henderson said the committee received a letter from Southland Boys' High School in November, saying the Ministry of Education had decided schools could not be used for profit-making activities and the market would have to move.

The group had been given three months' notice to find another venue, but had since been granted an extension to stay until the end of March, Ms Henderson said.

Southern Farmers Market committee chairwoman Mary Adams said Southland Boys' High School had been a great location for the market and the news they had to move came as a "bit of a surprise".

The committee had been in talks with the Invercargill City Council about utilising a central city location, perhaps the Scottish Hall, but nothing had been finalised, Ms Adams said.

Any ideas for other venues, which were suitable for all weathers, had room for about thirty stalls and had toilets and power, were still welcome, she said. "There's people that have said ‘why not move to Queens Park?' But being outside in the middle of a spring snowstorm is not our ideal option."

Southland Boys' High School business manager Pat Jones said the decision to move the market had been made at a ministry level and referred further media inquiries to the ministry.

Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure Kim Shannon said the ministry and Southland Boys' High had concerns about the use and effect on the school of the market.

The commercial market had been operating without the appropriate consideration of insurance requirements and licence from the ministry, she said.

The ministry was open to reconsidering the matters, but any review would need to take into account policy and the effect on the school, she said.

Ministry policy states for third party use to be approved, activities need to serve an educational purpose for the school or its community, or have a general community purpose, provided no educational disadvantage is created for the school.

Commercial markets generally failed to meet the criteria of serving a community purpose, especially if alternate sites were available, she said.

The city council has entered the fray, offering a potential lifeline to the market. Councillor Neil Boniface said the Scottish Hall had been assessed as meeting about 53 per cent of the new building standard, and had been "deemed OK" for community use.

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The council would now consider housing the farmers market at the hall, and he believed the market should move there.

" It would add a bit of liveliness to the town."

The market will continue to operate at Southland Boys' High School until the end of March.

- The Southland Times

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