TEMPORARY barricades, or parklets, were supposed to be removed from outside shops in Nepean Highway, Rosebud, on 6 April but an “internal delay” at the Department of Transport meant they stayed longer.
The barriers, between Fourth and Fifth avenues, have caused friction between Rosebud Chamber of Commerce and Mornington Peninsula Shire to such an extent that the chamber was last week considering legal action.
Chamber president Phil Cvetovac said despite pleas to remove them by traders whose businesses were being adversely affected the barriers had remained in place with no end date in sight. (“Concerns over barriers to trade” The News 20/4/21).
“I’m beyond furious with the arrogance of how all of this has been handled,” Mr Cvetovac said in an email to colleagues and The News.
“The overpowering of small locals by disconnected ‘policy’ makers incenses me no end. People that have never run a business – making business decisions – is incompetency personified.”
But the shire’s interim director of place Jessica Wingad said last week: “We expected approval would be granted for this work within a few days but, unfortunately, it has taken three weeks.
“We finally received approval … and the parklet will be removed on the morning of Wednesday 28 April.”
Ms Wingad said the shire’s outdoor dining and trading program had played a crucial role in allowing businesses across the shire to maximise their trade during the peak period between January and Easter.
“The program has been so well-received that the majority of traders have asked for their parklets to be extended until June and are keen to see them installed again next summer,” she said. “In a small number of instances, difficult decisions had to be made to try and balance the competing needs of traders. In the case of the parklet between Fourth and Fifth avenues, five out of the six traders are hospitality businesses and four have benefited from the parklet.
“We are extremely keen to work with the remaining trader [presumably Rosebud Flowers] to help offset any perceived impact and [have] offered material support to create an attractive open-air trading space for the business.
“We also offered help with promoting and growing the business.”
Mr Cvetovac’s email to traders contained a plea from Rosebud Flowers proprietor Penelope Caravias: “Please, please, please could we have an answer” on when the parklets will be removed? she asked.
“This is so totally unfair and an injustice, especially when the three [outside] Subway, Rosebud Flowers and Hungry Bills have not been used at all and our businesses are desperate to be able to get our customers back.
“Broken promises have been made for over seven months now. Please.”
Mr Cvetovac said he urged the council in December to consult with traders before any business initiatives were either proposed or implemented.
He said his research found 87 per cent of traders opposed the parklets saying they were potentially dangerous, eye sores, meant a loss of car park spaces, and that passing trade may be compromised. They also required cleaning, additional staffing and maintenance, and were just another “variable” that had to be managed.
Rosebud Flowers is desperate to ease uncertainty in the lead-up to the traditionally big Mother’s Day sales on Sunday 9 May.
Cr Antonella Celi said she thought the parklets were “working well” and that most traders backed them. “The voices of all traders should be heard so that businesses can come out of COVID, and while numbers of customers are capped for indoor patronage,” she said. “Businesses such as The Milbri and Spitfire Restaurant needed our support and the florist is also trading online. There is plenty of parking capacity, especially in the centre median strip. It would be different if there was no car parking.”