City withdraws Salt River market’s permit

Mary-Anne Gontsana
One of the Yew Street Market supporters, Charlotte Bouw jumps in the air at the first market held on 30 May. The market’s permit has since been withdrawn. Photo from Yew Street Market’s Facebook page.
Mary-Anne Gontsana

What was supposed to be an upliftment project for the Salt River community has turned into a nightmare for market organiser Kim van Lingen. The permit for her market was withdrawn days before the second one was to take place.

Van Lingen is the organiser of the Yew Street Market, which is described as a return to the authentic community street market: “An eclectic mix of a fully fledged farmers and food market, an Artist & Makers Market and a Previously Loved, Vintage Market and Knick Knack Market all rolled into one.”

Having had a successful first market on 30 May, the Yew Street Market’s permit has been withdrawn by the City of Cape Town after receiving a few complaints about things that the organiser says are “on the basis of falsehoods and collusion on the part of a handful of businessmen.”

The complaints that Van Lingen says she knows about include a few businesses and residents saying they were denied access to their buildings; they were denied access to the roads; their children were denied access to the park; and that amplified music was played at the market.

“These complaints are all not true because first of all a whole bunch of stall owners had kids and all the kids were playing in the park and secondly there was no music at all at the market. In fact it was such a rainy day that Saturday, the musician stood us up. I haven’t even applied for a music permit. I have a problem getting electricity to the park because it means you have to run a power cable along the road. There are city council regulations on this issue. There is no electricity at the market,” said Van Lingen.

Lynne Thomson, one of the stall owners who traded on 30 May sells sausages on a stick. “We don’t understand why they are against it because it was such a peaceful market, such a peaceful atmosphere. I find it so strange because the market is just a few hours in the day. It’s a Saturday which is actually very quiet,” she said.

Van Lingen says prior to having the first Yew Street Market, she had difficulty obtaining a permit. “I make soap and I couldn’t find anywhere in Cape Town to trade. I tried getting a hawker’s permit, but you can’t get one anymore. I tried to get on any of Cape Town’s markets and I was told by the guy who manages [them] that all the markets are full. So I thought okay, I live here, its dead. Salt River’s dead from 3.30 in the afternoon. So I thought nothing happens on this street, lets try and put a street market together and so I did. I went and I emailed the permits office, told them I didn’t know what I was doing, I’ve never done this before. I asked them to put me in touch with all of the relevant people that I would need to speak to about putting a market together. They did. I emailed people and some of them emailed me back, I had site meetings with the traffic cops, they advised me of where the roads would need to be closed, how it would work, and then I applied for a permit.

“On 14 April I submitted the first application for the market. I never heard back from the permit office. On 21 April I eventually got an email back from them after I had sent them a whole string of emails asking what’s going on, what do I need to do, talk to me please. As it turns out, they had a staffer walk out on them and so my application never got processed. So on 21 April, I resubmitted my application and then it was lodged. I basically just did everything that they told me to. The first market was supposed to be on 9 May because I submitted on 14 April and it takes three weeks to get a permit. Because the staffer walked out, I changed the date to 16 May with the second application. Somewhere in the week round about 20 May, still no permit. I phoned and was told it would be issued on Friday. On that basis, I went to all the businesses around here, to tell them about the market, to tell them about the road closure. I also got permission from the City’s parks department. We have a small park that’s very neglected. I said to them if the market takes responsibility for the park, can we fix it? Can we paint the equipment? Can we repair the busted stuff? Can I put down the ground cover for the trees? Can we make the park pretty? And he said yes. The man from the parks department said if the greater community wants to take on the responsibility of the park, by all means. He said that there were some people who would like to have the park scrapped and turned into a parking lot, and they would be very happy if that didn’t happen and the community took responsibility for the park,” explained Van Lingen.

She said she finally received the permit on the evening of 29 May.

Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Garreth Bloor confirmed that the Yew Street Market’s permit had been withdrawn. “Complaints or objections were received from residents and businesses relating to issues such as the market causing an obstruction; access concerns; road closures; and consultation. The area where the market is located is a public space. While we are fully supportive of small businesses and entrepreneurs, the City has a responsibility to balance the needs of all users. It is the responsibility of the event organiser to engage with all surrounding businesses and affected parties, which includes residents,” he said.

Van Lingen insisted that she had consulted with the businesses and the residents around where the market would be. “I walked to all the businesses, gave out my business cards, that we having a market, the roads are going to be closed, if you guys need to trade, let me know we’ll facilitate. You won’t be stopped from coming in or out of this space obviously. If you open on a Saturday, which most of them aren’t, let me know, I’ll speak to the traffic officers manning the closures to let you guys through. They’ll let the customers through”.

Bloor said Van Lingen had “consulted a body corporate and from this consultation three objections were sent through to the City. These objections were sent to the event organiser and the City requested that she engage with the three aggrieved parties and provide feedback, which was done. Two of the three parties were then supportive of the market. The event organiser was advised that a permit would be issued for one day only, which was for 30 May 2015, in order to assess the level of support for the market,” he said.

Asked whether the Yew Market Street would receive their permit back any time soon, Bloor said “The City will consider issuing a permit after a proper public engagement process is completed and an amicable resolution has been reached with all interested and affected parties.”

Van Lingen said “The application for this event was, and clearly stated that we would have a market every Saturday from the 30 May. I never needed to apply for an exemption permit for the market. I never needed to get public participation for the market. The only thing I needed to do for my application to be official, was to go around and inform everybody of the road closure, and facilitate them, make it possible for them to carry on trading which I’ve done. I was also reported to be dumping in the park, and all I was doing was sprinkling sawdust on the ground for the market. The first market was fun and successful and the purpose of this market is to uplift and improve, we are not an exclusionary market. Every business, everybody is welcome to join us.”

Many have since voiced their disappointment of the issue after the Yew Street Market posted on their Facebook page that there would not be a market taking place this weekend because of the withdrawal of the permit.

Wooden Reel Craft wrote “Not good, sorry to hear. Petition? Any other avenues? I don’t think you should accept this….”

Anibal Patisserie wrote “I was wondering if there is a way in which we could get a formal petition against this on the way, whereby we could get stall-keepers and local Yew Street residents involved in voicing their opinion on this. Sometimes the perceived majority is actually just an influential minority. Too much hard work and energy went into preparation to make the Yew Street Market a success and surely this is but a hurdle.”

The City’s Priya Reddy also commented on the post saying “The City is not trying to block this initiative for the sake of blocking it. We are very supportive of all initiatives like this that give small businesses a platform on which to sell their wares as it stimulates our economy. Of course, we must take into consideration the broader community. We are not interested in having a mudslinging match with any of our residents. Someone from the City will contact you shortly to try and find a way forward that is suitable to all affected parties.”

While Gwenni Field simply wrote “Politics!”

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