A small-business owner claims his business is being “destroyed” by a $13 million project that’s closed off a busy Melton thoroughfare.
Michael Kirby, of XO Accounting, told Star Weekly his business had been “completely shut off from the world” as Melton council carried out works for stage two of the Pride of Melton project, which includes upgrades to the streetscape in Palmerston Street, renovation of the amphitheatre and footpath installation.
Works started last month and are expected to be finished by the end of the year.
Mr Kirby said this was the busiest time for his business, but he had made two staff redundant and he expected to lose at least $70,000 in income as a result of the works.
“I understand council wants to beautify the area and I applaud them, but … I can’t see why they needed to do this during this period of [tax] time,” Mr Kirby said.
“It’s stung a little bit because I’m trying to employ local people. We’re a fixture of the community and I think we’ve been treated unfairly. You try to do the right thing, support the council and bring business to Melton, and this is the way we’ve been treated.”
Mr Kirby said this year’s blow to business followed a similar experience last year when Palmerston Street was partially blocked off for construction of nearby taxi ranks.
He said clients were having trouble finding the entrance to his business, and would-be clients weren’t aware of XO Accounting’s presence.
“We’d like to say we’re still open for business and any support we can get from the community would be much appreciated,” he said.
Melton council’s acting operations manager, Les Stokes, said the council had held one-on-one or small group information sessions and public drop-in sessions before the works started.
“The timing of the delivery of works was primarily dictated by the funding requirements of the Australian and Victorian governments, who are providing funding that accounts for two-thirds of the Melton Town Centre redevelopment project costs,” Mr Stokes said.
“Another factor in scheduling the works is that it’s anticipated the current stage of redevelopment will be completed in time for the Christmas and New Year festive season, and will allow residents to enjoy the new outdoor space in finer weather.”