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Central Market turmoil as board members quit

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The embattled Central Market faces more turmoil today with the resignation of the market’s chair, Judy Potter, and two board members.

Adelaide City Council announced early this morning that Potter and fellow board members Pip Forrester and Paul Kerin had tendered their resignations. Their resignations follow the resignations of two other board members in January, leaving the entire board now vacant.

The council said it would establish a new board for the market, with Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood insisting that the independent governance structure was right for the market.

The market’s governing body and its management have been rocked by instability and infighting over the last few months over the future direction of the market.

High-profile market CEO Claude Baxter, who was appointed in June to replace resigning CEO Carl Partridge, was given a month off on leave with pay at the end of January in the wake of apparent disagreements between him and the board. Baxter remains on leave, the council said today. Adelaide City Council CEO Peter Smith refused to say if he had confidence in Baxter, nor if he expected him to continue as CEO when the board positions were filled.

“Out of respect to Claude… I will try to expedite those issues as soon as possible,” Smith said. “And when I’m in a position to answer that question then I’ll answer that question.”

Smith said problems weren’t confined to possible differing visions for the market, and there were multiple outstanding issues to resolve.

Potter is quoted in Town Hall’s media release as saying she was strongly supportive of the market’s current governance model, which was established only a few years ago.

The council ceded control of the market to an independent authority and board.

“Establishing the authority and board was a bold move by the council given the 140 year heritage of the market,” Potter said.

“I believe the governance model provides the best platform for the Central Market to continue to flourish in the years to come.”

Smith said in a statement that the council was still working with the suspended Baxter “to agree the best way forward of running the market”.

In January Traders’ Association president Franz Knoll told The Advertiser that Baxter and the board had different visions for the market.

“Claude has strong opinions on what should happen,” he said.

“And the board has a different opinion.

“They weren’t able to come to a resolution as to what is the best way forward with an overall strategy. There is a lot at stake.”

 

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