Council shuts down Aussie's community street pantry: 'Unsightly'

The markets support our most vulnerable, but now face immediate closure.

A free community street market established to support Aussies in need is facing being shut down after a local council deemed the set-up "unsafe and unsightly".

"Kicking it at Kingston", in Logan in Brisbane's south, was erected three years ago by organiser Angela Leo, who says she wanted to "mash a few ideas together" after "learning about street libraries and community vegetable gardens".

The Queenslander said she wanted to provide opportunity for the more vulnerable members of society, and in the time since it's been in operation, has helped numerous neighbours, friends and strangers daily. Ms Leo said the markets have become "a lifeline for those in need" — with everything from gifts, food, including refrigerated items, and other essentials on offer.

Angela Leo and her local community.
Ms Leo says her markets support the community and those in need. Source: A Current Affair.

Goods donated that otherwise 'might've ended up in landfill'

"Homeware, clothing, food, to jewellery. We have saved in excess of hundreds of tonnes of what might have ended up in landfill," Ms Leo told A Current Affair.

All completely free, the markets are volunteer based, with the only currency accepted being "sharing, respect and responsibility".

"I had a mother telling me the other day that she hasn't had to buy clothes for her kids for the last three years, and the pressure that took off of her was huge," Ms Leo said.

"Now she feels like she's part of our family, you can't get any better than that."

A view of the street markets.
The street markets have been in operation for three years in Logan in Brisbane's south. Source: A Current Affair.

Though despite all the good the market aims to do for residents and those in need, it now faces permanent closure after a complaint from a local. After looking into the matter, Logan City Council claims authorities were made aware of activities that allegedly "negatively impact public health".

But Ms Leo claims council simply want the markets removed because they've deemed it problematic.

"When it's a nuisance to feed and clothe people of the community we really have to question what our governments are doing," she said.

Council claims some products 'unsafe, unsightly'

Logan Council has now ordered Ms Leo to remove the street market or face a fine of 5 penalty units — which equates to a value of $774. Ms Leo was giving a seven-day notice on October 18, meaning it was required to close yesterday.

"These are essential goods in some of the hardest times and we live in an area of Logan which has some of the highest unemployment. We have some of the highest social disadvantages in the whole area," Ms Leo said, pointing to the fact that over the course of the three years, there's been no other issues.

Ms Leo and her street markets.
Now, they face immediate closure. Source: A Current Affair.

Officials say however some of the items on offer were allegedly unsafe to the community. It's not known what products exactly they are referring to.

"Logan City Council has acted in response to a complaint from a Kingston resident relating to items allegedly stored in an unsafe and unsightly way on a local footpath," A council spokesperson said.

"Investigations by Council. Council has a duty to act when made aware of activities which negatively impact public health, safety or liveability."

'Failed negotiations'

According to the statement, "numerous discussions were held over the past two months with the residents involved" in an effort to assist them to "voluntarily achieve compliance with the local law via alternate means."

"Continued non-compliance left Council with little choice but to issue a notice on October 18 requiring the items be removed from the nature strip and footpath within seven days," council said.

"Council will continue to work directly with those involved to achieve a mutually satisfactory outcome."

The local community say they won't go down without a fight, and have stood firmly behind Angela in the hope that she can her markets in operation.

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