Low feeling in High St

Feeling cut up: High Street butcher Rex McKay is fearful for the future of his business due to looming roadworks in the front of his shop north of the former railway crossing. Picture: MARK JESSERTRADERS north of Wodonga’sold High Street railway crossing are worried about the impact of new roadwork with one fearing the area will become a “ghost town”.
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Wodonga Council said this week the next stage of High Street works would begin between Bond and South streets in September.

The Butcher’s Hook and Cleaver owner Rex McKay said he feared for the future of his business due to the lack of car parking during the lengthy disruption.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to do,” Mr McKay said.

“I can see this area becoming a ghost town because eight months is a long time, not only to survive but to meet the same expenses.

“It costs me $1200 a week to open with no return, what do you think will happen after eight months.

“We opened what was a closed down shop six years ago and the council look like it could turn it into a closed down shop again.”

Mr McKay was ata council forumfor affected businesseson Thursday night but left feeling he was being offered “nothing” tocope.

He said the city would provide up to $3000 on a dollar-for-dollar basis for businesses to spend on improving their shops.

“How many businesses will have $3000 at the end of this to do something with their shop?” Mr McKay said.

Alljoy Chinese Restaurant proprietor Carolyn Chan said her dine-in custom had dropped with work on the neighbouring Mann Central shopping centre creating noise and air pollution.

She said the council had advised businesses to explore rent relief with their landlords.

“The landlord will listen but I don’t think they will accept a reduced rent because the cost of living is going up and the council rates are going up,” Mrs Chan said.

The eastern side of the north-end shopping strip has seen the closure of Bernie’s Auto Spares due to retirement and a coffee shop not renewing its lease.

Julia’s Fabric Boutique owner Cathy Upton is concerned about the impact on her customers who need to park nearby to carry in sewing machines for repairs and classes.

Similarly African Groceries sell 20-kilogram bags of rice and 12½-kilogram packs of semolina which their customers do not want to carry far.

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