Bar owners denied use of closed-off Octagon space

Octagon bar owners are fuming after learning they will not be able to extend their premises during major events early next year, despite the Octagon being closed to vehicles.

It is the latest in a series of gripes over the temporary closure of the Octagon, which has fired up business owners, bus company Ritchies, and the New Zealand Cruise Association.

The Dunedin City Council recently announced trial closures of the Octagon, including a full closure from January 27 to February 16 and partial closures from February 17 to March 23.

Craft Bar and Kitchen owner John MacDonald said for the past 18 years, when big events such as concerts had occurred and the Octagon was closed to traffic, bars had been allowed to extend their premises on to the road to cater for the large crowds.

But during next year’s closure, which encapsulated events such as the Queen and Elton John concerts and the Masters Games, that would not be allowed.

‘‘The road’s going to be closed for this extensive period of time but we’re not able to utilise any of it.

‘‘We’re not able to put tables and chairs out there, we’re not able to put temporary bars out there, we’re not able to do any of it.’’

There had been no explanation from council about that decision, he said.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said businesses felt ‘‘disenfranchised’’.

He chaired a meeting with about 20 retailers yesterday morning, where they shared their concerns.

A major concern was the process leading to the trial closure announcement where there was no consultation with businesses, only visits to explain what would happen, he said.

He was seeking a meeting with the council to consider alternatives.

The trial closure has sparked an outcry from businesses concerned about a potential loss of foot traffic when cruise passengers were dropped off outside Toitu.

But the council has said plenty of time and planning had gone into the trial closure, and it believed the measures would create a vibrancy and atmosphere that would attract visitors.

The council did not respond to a request for comment by deadline yesterday.


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Dunedin bends over backwards to accommodate the hospitality industry. Mr McGowan is inappropriately critical of the City.

This new Council looks to be continuing from the last with being anti-business and driving failure. Dunedin City Council is a joke. What’s just as frustrating is, the residents of Dunedin voted for this once again. Clearly this majority have never ventured out of Dunedin and doesn’t know what progression looks like.

You mean to tell me that the dcc doesn't listen to the people that pay the bills? Pfft, no surprises there.
And with a greenie as mayor, get used to more fingers in ears and 'la la la la I can't (won't) hear you I know better than you'
Standard green government policy on how to conduct yourself

"A major concern was the process leading to the trial closure announcement where there was no consultation with businesses, only visits to explain what would happen"
There has been no consultation with anyone it seems, typically the dcc has just bulldozed ahead with their plans ala just like culls council used to do.

Oh for heaven's sake. Since when did the city owe bar owners the right to spread their businesses into public space? Since when, for that matter, did the city owe bus companies right to stop in the octagon? The decision to close the octagon is not about giving bar owners more income, it's about making the space more attractive to citizens and visitors. And, for many of us, that means keeping the boozing out of it!

Member of the Council are you? It's not about boozing. Travel to any developing city or those with extended public/no traffic spaces, and you'll see the buzz that al fresco dining creates.

Have you read the article mate? DCC is closing the streets and denying the businesses the opportunity to make money. DCC made an arbitrary decision without any consultation with the businesses affected during a very busy time. The street closure means no foot traffic. All the businesses are asking is the opportunity to make some extra money during the concert to offset their losses. Not a lot to ask for mate dont you think? Yes, we want a city that looks lovely. The rates we pay goes towards paying for that but so do the exorbenent fees businesses pay to the DCC. The problem the business owners are highlighting is legit. Most of the DCC and the mayor have never done anything, never ran a business, never had to make a payrole. Businesses dont have the luxury of raising rates to cover the costs of poor choices. DCC constantly makes poor choices and charges us for the privilege by raising rates. Dunedin is dying a slow death and the businesses are just trying to survive despite DCC. Its not just the bars mate, the restrants need the extended area also. A bit dramatic to say "keep the boozing out" dont you think? Not everybody there is boozing, a gross generalization!

FrankieC says "The street closure means no foot traffic."
I'm pretty sure that the closure means no vehicle traffic, therefore more foot traffic.
Businesses are not being denied the opportunity to make money. They are being denied the opportunity to extend their physical presence into a public space.
As someone has already stated, the city does not owe this small group of businesses a living.

Too funny! Id suggest a re-read of the article. Who does a trial closure while there is a major concert in town? Hmmm...the same people who brought us the empty bike lanes! No surprise there I guess. ZERO common sense! I think the point that's being missed is this: Visitors and citizens generally go to the Octagon for the food and drink. The money generated by their visits is what pays for the beautification. Its a trial closure, it could be coordinated and scheduled at a more opportune and less busy time? Its great that people have opinions, too bad they cant all be informed!

I totally agree, all this anger seems to be more a direct assault on the DCC, which I may add, pretty much deserves some of that flak, however, much of that anger is based on past council failures. Businesses should indeed be consulted, as they will be the 'guinea pigs' in any change to the way the central city is structured and operated. However, I believe that the centre city does not belong soley to the bar owners, nor should they expect to automatically have access to the area to put out tables and serve food and drinks. Surely cruise ship passengers get enough of that onboard? So many other stalls, entertainers etc can fill this space for people to browse and purchase with the cafes and bars already at the perimeter of it all.
"The trial closure has sparked an outcry from businesses concerned about a potential loss of foot traffic when cruise passengers were dropped off outside Toitu."
From Toitu, they will without a doubt venture to the Railway Station, then they will wonder up into the city to see all the shops, sights and sounds and experience whatever atmosphere Dunedin turns on. This is a chance to do something different, let's grab it and shoot for gold!

Com' on business owners Do as you we say, how dare you guys think the DCC would ask you. Great way on how to destroy a town and make it a village. Obviously a meeting isn't good enough, as I previously said on various topics, time for Dunedin to Stand up and confront these policy makers via a protest. They are playing the game that you will get sick of complaining and go away, Arrange a protest so it becomes national news and the DCC are forced to front up and explain If nothing changes keep protesting. in various places. Even better drive to Port Chalmers and pick up a hitch hiker in the morning - drive real slow and pick up pre positioned friends along the way and have your say - simple really,

Please leave a little space for people to WALK. Bars do not own the area beyond their legal premises.

Maybe it's time to close the city on a trial basis? Then we could stop paying the council on a trial basis. Let's face it, if the mayor and the council went on a junket to China for a year the city would run fine and nobody would even notice they were gone. If you havent had enough of these do nothing amatures wait until you get your 2020-2021 rates bill. Next election a lot more people will be voting and it will be to send the clowns back to the circus!

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