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Bondi Businesses Face Council Crisis

By Emma Norris on June 17, 2011 in News

Photo: Grant Brooks

It can be challenging enough for small businesses to thrive in the wake of an international financial crisis. Bondi’s Jacques Avenue businesses including Chop Shop, Bowhouse and Club Sandwich have been striving to establish themselves for years. And what’s making thing even tougher for the owners of these stores is the recent attention they have been receiving from council rangers with regard to alleged footpath obstructions.

The Jacques Avenue businesses in question had allegedly encountered no prior council intervention following a compulsory footpath upgrade in the area three years ago. When this work was carried out, three dirt patches were left exposed on the street, which had negative effects on the nearby businesses and turned into a muddy quagmire after rainfall.

Dan Dixon, owner of the Chop Shop, told The Beast the turf was completely neglected by the council, leaving the business owners to tend to their respective areas themselves.

“None of these sections saw any care at all from anybody apart from the business residents occupying this section of Jaques Ave,” Dixon said.

“The turf that was laid was a complete waste of funding as it was not resilient and very quickly died leaving extremely unsightly dirt patches that have regularly filled our businesses with dust and debris.”

In the lead up to the Bondi Winter Magic program, the Jacques Avenue businesses beautified the area by tastefully adorning the dirt patches with furniture and seating for their customers.

“The businesses of Jaques Ave took it upon ourselves to beautify the area by tastefully adorning our dirt patches with furniture that provided seating for customers and the community and in particular Skye, a local vision impaired woman who frequents Bowhouse with her Seeing Eye Dog,” Dixon said.

Six weeks ago, a private contractor hired by council visited Jacques Avenue and laid cement in the neglected areas. Whilst the local businesses appreciated this attempt to fix the eyesore, the process had not been requested, and soon after Waverley Council commenced issuing footpath obstruction warnings to the Jacques Avenue businesses.

“We, out of our own pockets, beautified and brought community spirit to an area the council didn’t show any care for. And now we start receiving fines for the very thing that they were unable to provide,” Dixon added.

“This is affecting other businesses too. A large number of local businesses all share a disgust at the continual fining of Joseph and Glady’s Lucky 7 Convenience Store on Hall Street for displaying flowers outside their shop. It seems to be nothing more than a money grabbing effort from the council rather than support for community spirit.”

Waverley Council spokesperson Danielle Lee-Ryder told The Beast that the issue at hand is that the businesses do not have an existing permit for outdoor seating. Restaurants and cafes in Waverley that want to provide outdoor seating need to first make an application. Approval would then depend on the Council’s Development Control Plan. Failure to comply would cause the Council to issue a notice and follow up with a fine.

Dixon is putting his foot down and refuses to condone the council’s “money grabbing” tactics by paying the $300 fine.

An action group is now in development to help remedy the situation.