• Tony Bosworth

“Storm in a tea cup” says Zamprogno after Richmond Good Food Market tells him to “move along”

Updated: Nov 25

Councillor Nathan Zamprogno – he was elected as a Liberal but is standing in the upcoming Council election as an independent – clashed with the organisers of the popular Richmond Good Food Market on Saturday when he and fellow group candidates visited to "engage with the community".

Cllr Nathan Zamprogno - second left - and colleagues at Richmond Oval on Saturday

Several visitors to the market also contacted the Post and complained, as did others on the councillor’s Facebook page (some of the comments have since been removed by Cllr Zamprogno) with one saying “you were asked to leave and you lied about having permission to be there”.

A spokesman for the Market told us, “I can confirm he was asked to move along from the market as we’ve had several complaints, both on the day, and after the fact, about him stopping and harassing our customers. Our market has no political affiliation with anyone and we plan to keep it that way.”

But Cllr Zamprogno – who officially is still a sitting Liberal councillor, at least until the end of the term on December 4 – told us it was “a storm in a tea cup”.

He says he has been asking Hawkesbury Council for clarification on what was and was not allowed while canvassing and meeting residents, and he says on Saturday he was told by Council officers he was perfectly entitled to be there, given Richmond Oval – where the Market is held - is public land.

A text from a Council official, which the Post has seen, also said - in response to Cllr Zamprogno's questions - that, “unless you are part of the markets with the approval of the proprietor…council does not permit political advertising on its land including its parks. Handing out how-to-votes should be okay without the signage and any other tables”.

He says he and his team simply gathered on the pathway outside of the area where the market stalls are.

“I have been pushing Council to give written guidance for all candidates,” says Cllr Zamprogno, not least because this election is different in the way elements of it are held, due to COVID, he says. For example, candidates cannot hand out how to vote cards at polling booths, so it limits interaction with voters.

The councillor - who was dumped by the Liberals as a local council candidate but still retains his Liberal Party membership - said he had been to Windsor markets and there was no issue.

“Richmond Market is still in a public space and I was simply there to engage with the community. I placed myself on the footpath at the end of the market. I was told by Council it was okay to be there and hand out leaflets.”

He says he did have an A-frame with him – for posters - but took it down. He says “self-appointed busy-bodies” are causing the issues for him.

“When it has been so difficult [because of COVID restrictions] to engage with people, why isn’t anybody else [other candidates] there?

“It was very warmly received,“ he says of his team’s presence in Richmond.

“We have had other councillors reach out and ask about hiring space at the market, all of which have respected our decision to politely decline,” said the Richmond Good Food Market’s spokesperson.

“We have had a few people there with tents and tables just sitting there allowing the community to come to them if they would wish to, but stopping and harassing customers and stall holders while they are trying to make a living is certainly not something we allow.

“I’d like to stress that we have no political affiliation with anyone.”

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