Oamaru retailers feel 'shabbily treated'

Latitude 45 cafe and wine bar owner Bruce Morrison says there was insufficient warning about...
Latitude 45 cafe and wine bar owner Bruce Morrison says there was insufficient warning about roadworks in Ribble St which had a major impact on his business. Photo by Sally Rae.
The effects of roadworks in Ribble St on their Latitude 45 cafe and wine bar have been so "disheartening" Bruce Morrison and Paul Shepherd have considered packing up and leaving.

Yesterday, Mr Morrison said they had been fighting to keep their business going and had reached the stage where all they wanted to do was build the business back up, sell and leave.

Retailers in Ribble St had been "shabbily treated" by the Waitaki District Council and there had been a total lack of consideration of what they had been put through, he said.

Mr Morrison received a letter from Fulton Hogan on June 6, saying pavement rehabilitation would start on June 11 and finish on June 27.

He said he later discovered the wrong letter had been delivered and major roadworks had been planned from the start.

"We had no warning at all - it just happened," he said.

Retailers had asked about compensation and rates relief and were told they would not get either.

They had been to the ombudsman and Disputes Tribunal without success.

Mr Morrison said they were doing about a quarter of the business they did before the roadworks started.

Some days, they sold only one coffee between 8am and midday and their cashflow had "basically dried up".

With the New Zealand Transport Agency undertaking major roadworks through the town's main street later this year, Mr Morrison said he did not think main street retailers realised the consequences, which included effects on staff, the financial impact and stress.

When contacted, the council's assets group manager, Neil Jorgensen, said businesses were not given adequate notice work was to begin and the council had let itself down with its poor communication.

It had since met retailers and discussed what it could do to put that right, he said.

While there was never going to be a good time to do the repair work, it had been needed because the street was in a "shocking condition".

"If we didn't do something, the road was going to become riddled with potholes."

Work was done in winter to avoid disruption during the busier summer months.

Weather conditions had delayed the sealing until Wednesday.

Council policies did not include allowances for compensation for any loss of income experienced during roadwork operations.

The council had conducted an advertising campaign to attract customers to Ribble St during construction and it was about to have another one to say work had finished.

A debriefing would also be held to make sure things were done better next time, Mr Jorgensen said.


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