TRADERS in the Rosebud shopping strip are querying the continuing use of parking barricades along Point Nepean Road now that the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
“Parklets”, which gave traders the use of car parking spaces, were introduced to provide shops, mainly cafes, with more space in which to operate.
But the protecting barricades have not benefitted all businesses, particularly those whose customers prefer to park nearby to make a quick purchase and drive off.
Rosebud Flowers says it is facing collapse because of the barricades on Point Nepean Road between Fourth and Fifth Avenues.
Previous owner Marlene Knight has had to take over from proprietor Penny Caravias who found the strain of running the business with decreasing returns caused by the parking barriers too much and “had a breakdown”.
Ms Knight claimed uncertainty surrounding the removal of the barriers had robbed the business of vital trade, with even the impromptu but regular sales to after-work tradies evaporating.
“We used to take $300-$400 in a few hours, but the barriers have stopped them pulling up and they are not going to cross that road,” Ms Knight said. “We are in dire trouble.”
Ms Knight said the barriers were to be removed at the end of January and again before Valentine’s Day [14 February] but “then the shire CEO [John Baker] paid us a visit and the end result is that they seem to be staying”.
Ms Knight said the business paid $8000 for roses for Valentine’s Day but sales were minimal.
Now the shop is facing uncertainty in the lead-up to the traditionally big Mother’s Day sales on Sunday 9 May.
“We are shovelling money into a big hole here,” Ms Knight said.
“We managed to get through COVID-19 and now this, yet we’ve still got to pay our rent, our growers … it’s a nightmare.”
“Who would put bollards on a major road like that and expect it to be safe?
“When Penny had her breakdown neither the ambulance nor the police could get near the shop. How can any authority block off a major thoroughfare this way? It’s just plain dangerous and puts people’s lives at risk.”
Rosebud Chamber of Commerce’s Stephanie Jurinovic said the latest advice from the shire was that the barricades would go on either Tuesday 6 April or Wednesday 7 April “in line with [Mr Baker’s] decision to extend the operation from its original removal date of 8 February to Easter”.
But that date has come and gone and the barricades remained as of Friday 16 April.
“Everyone understands that we were in a difficult situation regarding COVID-19, but they kept giving us a date [for the barriers to come down] and yet it seems to be ongoing. This is our livelihood.”
Ms Jurinovic has written to the shire asking, “who owns this decision and can confirm the exact date of removal?”
No reply had been received by Friday 16 April.
The shire’s economic development department wrote to the flower shop’s Ms Caravias saying they “understand your complete frustration at how this situation has turned out, particularly with the effect it has had on your business”.
However, the “final decision regarding what to do with the barriers and how long to leave them in place was made by [Mr Baker]” and staff “have to abide by that decision”.
Ms Caravias’s email was forwarded to Mr Baker and acting director of place Jessica Wingad.