Traders decry road closure

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Business operators Joanne Paris, Lyndon Egberts and Gary Bennett say the long weekend was ruined by the main street closure.
Camera IconBusiness operators Joanne Paris, Lyndon Egberts and Gary Bennett say the long weekend was ruined by the main street closure. Credit: Warren Hately

Margaret River business operators say the wheels have fallen off the Shire’s main street makeover.

Traders are furious the entry to Margaret River was blocked off throughout the Labour Day long weekend without any work done.

Their concerns were echoed by the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce.

Jahroc owner Gary Bennett said there was no past notice full road closures would be needed, but he was told last week the main route would shut for two or even four weeks. He was promised work would occur throughout the weekend, but nothing happened.

“It’s a pretty major stuff-up to close the street for four days over one of the busiest weekends of the year with no work going on,” he said. “I can’t believe that the Shire would show such little regard for tourists or the business comm-unity. We certainly don’t intend to put up with them closing the street for four weeks straight.”

Margaret River Bakery owner Lyndon Egberts said his business changed hours to accommodate the redevelopment, but he and others were seriously concerned at the lack of progress.

Their comments come on the back of other business owners asking what happened to weekend and potential night roadworks to avoid the project falling behind.

Shire corporate and community services director James Shepherd did not detail reasons for the delay, but said Shire staff and president Ian Earl met traders on Wednesday.

“During the meeting, the traders asked a number of questions about the recent long weekend, whilst we also had positive discussions about the way forward,” he said.

“These focused on the next few weeks as well as the coming Easter and Anzac weekends and additional ways to promote how to access the main street.”

Chamber president Melissa d’Ath said the latest developments were discussed at length.

“While we are happy on one hand with the responsiveness from the Shire to our concerns and queries, there now seems to be some signage that is in contradiction to past discussion,” she said.

“One point that was raised was closing off the section of Bussell Highway on a Thursday before the long weekend and then not doing any works for three days. We believe weekend work would be welcomed to speed up the process,” Ms d’Ath said.

“Three days off just after shutting the street and the signage at the perimeter road on the long weekend was particularly disappointing to those businesses, and reports from traders is the weekend was much quieter than last year.”

The chamber wanted work undertaken on weekends, but did not believe night work was feasible.

Mr Bennett also said Main Roads signs north of town stating “road closed” were unhelpful and he witnessed numerous motorists turn around and leave.

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