LITTLE India at Harris Park could be on its way soon with a meeting between the business community and Parramatta Council representatives scheduled for the first week of October.
In July, councillors agreed to set up a reference group to talk about dubbing the restaurant precinct in Harris Park Little India to bring the area alive, promoting the area as the place to come for Indian cuisine. But, in what seemed a straightforward proposal, councillors became mired in debate over whether the only Indian councillor Sameer Panday should represent the Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer when he cannot attend.
Cr Pierre Esber had suggested that it would be wise to have “someone who speaks the language and understands the culture” to represent the council in the group that would include Harris Park business people, up to three Rosehill ward councillors and up to two council officers.
Cr Panday is not a Rosehill councillor, but Cr Esber suggested he should be the one chosen to represent the Lord Mayor.
But Cr Dwyer disagreed, saying he would decide who would represent him. While humbled by the suggestion, Cr Panday said his inclusion was no different from anyone being set a task that matched their expertise.
Cr Panday said his knowledge of Indian culture was “not something anyone else in this room has”.
In the end, councillors accepted Cr Esber’s suggestion that Cr Panday represents the Lord Mayor in the reference group that would meet regularly to formulate the Little India plan.
However, Cr Lorraine Wearne, a steadfast opponent of designated cultural eating precincts, said: “If we have a Little India, why not a Little Korea, a Little China, a Little Lebanon?”
But the Indian community is the largest ethnic group in the Parramatta LGA, and Harris Park has the largest concentration of Indian eateries.
The plan had been originally proposed by former Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson in August 2019 as a way of activating culinary tourism in Parramatta.
It was carried on by the present Lord Mayor who called for the report that was put to the recent council meeting.
The report showed that there was unanimous support in the Harris Park Indian business community.
A Little India would be widely promoted to draw more visitors to Parramatta. The reference group will allow stakeholders to decide on the nitty-gritty of the proposal, including marketing and how the Harris Park community can work with the council to make it work.