Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt today announced that an extension of time has been granted to the Southside Markets to continue operating at its current location at Bentley Park until the end of February 2010.

“I was first made aware that the future of the markets was in jeopardy by Councillor Rob Pyne in November last year,” Mr Pitt said.

“I subsequently made representations to Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR), and asked that the Department work with the operator to determine a reasonable timeframe to allow the markets to relocate to another site.

“The outcome of those discussions has been a brief extension has been granted until 28 February 2010 to allow additional time to find an alternative location.”

Mr Pitt said this is good news for the markets, which have been operating for a few short months but have developed quite a strong following.

“There are more than 70 stallholders offering a variety of products and an affordable alternative to supermarket pricing to residents of the southern suburbs,” Mr Pitt said.

“The loyalty garnered in such in such a short time shows there is the demand for something like this in an area that is continuing to grow.”

Mr Pitt said the property where the markets currently operate is owned by the Department of Transport and Main Roads and is leased on a month to month basis for limited retail activity. The site was then sub-let to Mr Crale Reece for the operation of retail markets.

“Once the retail markets came into place, it had an impact on traffic movement around the site. The issue came to a head after Cairns Regional Council notified DTMR of the changed use and raised several concerns, mainly related to public safety,” Mr Pitt said.

“Due to a breach of the lease agreement, the Department asked the lessee to vacate by mid-December 2009. Since that time I have been working with Cr Pyne and Mr Reece on the options that would see the markets continue to operate.

“There are a range of options we are looking at but we’ll need to secure something quickly.”

Cairns Regional Councillor Rob Pyne welcomed the news of the extension and thanked Mr Pitt for his support.

“I went to Curtis on this issue and he’s answered the call and stood up for his local area and asked some important questions,” Cr Pyne said.

“The race is now on to find a new location that meets the needs of stallholders and government alike and I’m continuing to work with Curtis Pitt to explore other options.”

Markets operator Crale Reece said a site between Edmonton and Woree would be ideal and called on any interested landholders to get in touch.

“In real terms the property must be vacated on or before 28 February 2010. This means that a new venue must be found before this time or the markets will cease to operate,” Mr Reece said.

“The venue needs to have capacity for at least 200 car parks and must of course meet all the requirements for vehicle access and public safety.

“These markets have been a great thing for the area and I really want to see them continue into the future.”