TRADERS were celebrating yesterday in the wake of Wodonga Council’s decision not to close Hovell Street.
After a three month-long battle, the traders had a victory on Monday when the council voted to back down from its plan to partially close the street and create a pedestrian civic precinct.
But the plan isn’t off the table completely.
Councillors agreed to a set of milestones that must first be met before the plan could be considered again, including major roadworks.
Those behind the Don’t Close Hovell Street committee welcomed the news.
And they’d be happy to work with the council on any future plans for the city’s centre.
Newsagent Kieran Mahony said it was “as good an outcome as we could hope to expect” and thanked the council for recognising significant concerns.
“We’re still yet to be convinced of the merits of any closure but at least this approach allows time to properly assess future changes in the central business area,” he said.
“While it’s not completely off the table, we think it’s a hot potato issue that won’t be revisited in a hurry.”
Mr Mahony said the milestones set out were stringent and all traders needed to be involved.
Mat Poppins was disappointed with Cr Anna Speedie’s claim some people had been coerced into signing petitions against the closure.
“That was never our intention, we were looking for people to express their honest democratic view,” he said.
“If anyone felt coerced that certainly wasn’t what we were after.”
Mr Mahony was bemused by Cr Speedie’s claims.
“I had people coming in demanding to sign the petition, then turn and walk out again without buying so much as a chocolate bar,” he said.
“More than 4500 signed it — we haven’t had time to coerce people.”