By Steph McNicol
The Lancefield Farmer’s Market has a new temporary home after being granted permission to host this weekend’s event at Romsey Park.
The Friends of the Lancefield Farmer’s Market group confirmed late last week the market would go ahead at Romsey Community Sports Oval on Saturday, from 9am to 1pm.
Organisers said the event would operate in adherence with State Government rules, including social distancing, sanitising, and mandatory masks and face coverings.
Friends of the Lancefield Farmer’s Market volunteer Sally Richardson said the team would do its best to make sure the event was safe and low-risk to allay concerns about the transmission of COVID-19.
“There will be hand sanitiser upon entry, one entry and one exit, and there will be more volunteers than normal to make sure social distancing is being maintained,” she said.
“We know markets are normally a social event, but we don’t want to encourage socialising. We’re just pushing for people to go there, get what they need and go.
“It’s an opportunity for farmers to sell what they produce and for people to get what they need.”
The uncertain future of the market began when the Lancefield Park Committee withdrew permission for the event to go ahead at Lancefield Park – where it had previously been hosted during the pandemic.
The Lancefield Parks Committee is overseen by government body the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, DELWP, which confirmed the group did not need a licence for the event.
“We got a call on Friday from DELWP with confirmation we didn’t need a licence,” Ms Richardson said.
“I don’t have answers to any questions of why [the park committee denied permission for the event], all I can say is the communication wasn’t happening.”
Ms Richardson said the group had gone weeks without any response to emails or calls from Lancefield Parks Committee after the market was cancelled the day before its scheduled July event.
“They were just adding stipulations, asking us to check people’s IDs, put ropes up to ensure people could only walk in one direction – how would that work when people line up for stalls?” she said.
“Asking to check where people are coming from is a breach of privacy. What they asked us to do was difficult to implement.
“We haven’t been given any answers on why we can’t use a community space for a community event. They’re managing the space, doing a beautifuk job of mowing the lawns, but what is it for?”
The Lancefield Parks Committee issued a statement in response, saying it ‘strongly supports the Lancefield Farmer’s Market’.
“In the absence of a request to hold the market, or details about any COVID-19 plans and considering what was presented at the meeting, and other feedback, the decision was made for the market not to be held in July at the Lancefield Park,” the statement read.
“Lancefield Park Committee did not refuse any application to hold the Lancefield Market at the Lancefield Park for August 22.
“The holding of the market in Lancefield Park in the main street or even Lancefield Park in the current environment did concern a number of our community, and their concerns need to be given the same considerations and voice as those taking a more aggressive and vocal stance.
“This committee is not responsible for running the market, and it is not their decision as to whether it goes ahead, but it does have an obligation to DELWP, and our local community as to whether it can be held in Lancefield Park.”
The statement said a COVID-19-safe plan was submitted to the committee Thursday last week, and due to the short time-frame, the event was changed to council-owned land at Romsey Park.