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.