Busi­nesses ig­nored

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Letters - Jen­nifer Gher­ardi Mar­garet River

My anal­y­sis of the “state­ment of im­pact” by the Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River on main street traders for street rede­vel­op­ment clearly no­ti­fies the traders that their busi­nesses will need to pre­pare for a fi­nan­cial loss.

If the Shire does not par­tic­i­pate in deal­ing real­is­ti­cally, it will be us­ing the traders as sac­ri­fi­cial lambs for the greater good of “brand Mar­garet River” and the so­cial and cul­tural ben­e­fits of a more hu­man-friendly street.

These are all ob­vi­ously pos­i­tive out­comes for the en­tire com­mu­nity but the im­post must be shared fairly.

While con­trac­tors will be paid for their work by the de­vel­op­ment bud­get, the fi­nan­cial im­pact on traders has been ig­nored.

Would salaried in­di­vid­u­als think it fair to re­duce their salary for the greater good of the main street de­vel­op­ment?

We all know re­tail and busi­nesses across Aus­tralia are un­der great stress and they are al­ready deal­ing with this to the best of their abil­ity. To main­tain a mix of busi­nesses in the main street, we need to be cog­nisant of this real­ity. Empty build­ings will neg­a­tively af­fect brand Mar­garet River.

I would like to clar­ify I am propos­ing a rates-free pe­riod for land­lords, which would then be passed on to the traders.

The mech­a­nism to man­age this is not rocket science.

The Shire de­ter­mines the rates on build­ings, so this is a known fact. Land­lords then al­lo­cate this per rental.

The mech­a­nism would be that land­lords would pro­vide ev­i­dence of the rates break­down per ten­ant to the Shire in the form of a statu­tory dec­la­ra­tion signed by the land­lord and the ten­ant.

Then a sec­ond statu­tory dec­la­ra­tion would be made at the end of the rates-relief pe­riod to pro­vide ev­i­dence that the rates relief was given to the ten­ant.

The no­tion that traders will ben­e­fit in the fu­ture with im­proved busi­ness turnover is not sup­ported with any ev­i­dence. In fact, the peo­ple move­ment and park­ing is­sues may have a long-term neg­a­tive im­pact. There are ex­am­ples of this in many towns.

The Shire ad­mits there will be a 20 per cent re­duc­tion in main street park­ing. I am dis­ap­pointed there is lit­tle plan­ning to cater for the “in­creased” use of the new town cen­tre with re­duced park­ing. This is a grow­ing town. Where are the in­creased peo­ple go­ing to park on the out­skirts of the cen­tre?

The no­tion of build­ing a mul­ti­storey carpark in the cen­tre is con­trary to the Shire hav­ing just sold the block of land owned by the com­mu­nity on the main street for a bar­gain price to “bal­ance the de­vel­op­ment ledger”.

This short-sighted de­ci­sion means the com­mu­nity will pay dearly in the near fu­ture to try to fix the park­ing prob­lem.

In the mean­time, shop­pers will be pushed to malls.

This is par­tic­u­larly cruel when many main street busi­nesses/own­ers have paid “cash in lieu” if un­able to pro­vide park­ing and the Shire is legally re­quired to ex­pend this on the con­struc­tion of park­ing near those busi­nesses.

There has been a se­ri­ous lack of in­for­ma­tion on the man­age­ment of this fund to those who have paid these big amounts to the Shire.

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