Saturday's market set to be Frankton's last
This Saturday's Frankton market looks set to be the community's last, after the market organiser announced he no longer had the will to fight an Environment Court challenge brought by retailer Forlongs.
The announcement was made by market permit holder Vinod Bhikha on behalf of the Frankton Business Association, which follows a protracted dispute between the association and Frankton retailer Forlongs.
The news will be a blow to thousands of people who have jumped on the Save Frankton Markets Facebook page in support of 27-year-old local institution, but closure looks imminent unless a resolution can be brokered in the next few days.
Mr Bhika said unless something extraordinary happened, his involvement would end after this Saturday's market. As the permit holder on behalf of The Frankton Business Association, that would effectively mean the end of the market.
''Unless something extraordinary happens that might change the dynamics, there will not be a market on the streets again.''
The legal challenge seemed to be the last straw for Mr Bhika, who said he had been ground down by ongoing maintenance and organisation of the market.
''At this point in time I personally feel little motivation to put an event like this on again.''
Earlier this month Forlongs served the council and market organisers with papers detailing an Environment Court application for enforcement orders to the effect that the markets need resource consent, but is operating without one, and should therefore cease to exist. The council is the second respondent after market organiser Mr Bhikha.
Councillor Angela O'Leary said the council was obliged to fight the enforcement order as a second respondent and confirmed an extraordinary council meeting had been called to discuss the legal challenge from Mr Forlong this Friday.
She said she will be asking council to join with Mr Bhika to cover all legal costs, but if her motion was rebuffed he would be out on his own.
''Even though Mr Bhikha has made this decision, until we hear otherwise we must proceed with finding the best way to respond to the legal challenge. I will be asking my colleagues for council's full support to fight this on Mr Bhikha's behalf.''
Forlongs managing director Terry Forlong said he could not not comment fully on the development because the legal action was still in place, but confirmed the enforcement order is still going ahead.
Mr Forlong said he had last spoken with market organisers earlier today and said he would be disappointed if the markets were stopped totally.
''I think there will be a solution, there just needs time for the dust to settle and for people to think about the best options going forward.''