Last night, Tuesday 9 April, at a meeting hosted by the Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce, and chaired by President Zain Peart, approximately 60 members of the local business community (representing 34 businesses) unanimously voted for a motion to ask Ballina Shire Council to end the one-way trial, and return the streets to the two way system.
The main reason for the meeting and the motion: noticeable downturns in patronage and income. Business owners claimed their usual trade numbers were down, quoting figures that ranged from minus 10% to minus 29.5%.
The discussion also covered other concerns about public safety and accidents ‘just waiting to happen’. Already there have been at least two vehicles confirmed damaged with repair costs of over $7000, but more real were the concerns about the amount of near misses people already have had or have witnessed. The general consensus in the room was that the new configuration is dangerous, because it interferes with sight lines, and causes cars to reverse out into oncoming traffic.
Also of real concern, said attendees, is the extra time it will take emergency responders to traverse the new circuit, and the fact that the street is now much narrower and the lines of cars parked nose-in obscure the view of the shops along the main street.
According to those who were there, impulse stopping, or dropping in to buy something on the spur of the moment, is not supported by the trial, and is happening much less in Lennox Head.
Over the last few days The Lennox Wave has conducted its own informal survey of local main street businesses. We spoke directly to 81 businesses and other stakeholders, and also found more than double in opposition of the one-way trial: 17 yes, 43 no and 21 still undecided.
Discussion on social media has also been lively over the last two weeks. The undeniable sentiment of local residents on local facebook sites is against the one way trial. While some have pointed out that this is no scientific method of collecting reliable information and would not stand up in a properly controlled study, it nevertheless indicates a feeling in the community which businesses say is reflected in their figures.
In a nutshell, says local café owner Frank McWilliams, ‘locals no longer feel like dropping into town and businesses are suffering as a result.’
Michael King of Elders Real Estate said, ‘It’s just not working and is killing the amenity of the village.’
And Kirsten Miller of Jensens Solicitors said, ‘I know we never had traffic jams before this trial.’
On the contrary, those in the ‘yes’ camp like Charlie Hewitt Engineering Design are envisioning a broader picture. ‘The trial has clearly indicated its impact, but without the landscaping and public space upgrades we don’t yet see the benefits,’ he said.
Yesterday Ballina Shire Council’s Director Civil Services John Truman confirmed to The Lennox Wave that the concrete barriers at the northern end of town will be replaced with smaller, lower rubber barriers within the coming days. He said Council will also create a right turning lane into Park Lane from Ballina Street’s southern end.
If you feel strongly one way or the other about the one-way street, you have a chance to have your say. Ballina Shire Council has created an online survey which can now be completed here.
This is the only legitimate way Council has to measure sentiment.
Individual submissions and letters will also be accepted.