Lawrence St row starts as work finishes

A wrangle has ensued between Wodonga Council and some Lawrence Street traders who are angry roadworks were planned at the front of their businesses just before Christmas.

The traders say they have lost more than three-quarters of their usual business over the busy period and that the council only notified them two weeks beforehand.

They complained of a lack of communication from the council, which they say failed to update them on the roadworks progress.

However, the council said it visited the affected businesses 15 times and notified them months in advance.

The roadworks, on Lawrence Street, between Hovell and Havelock streets, began on October 16 and were due for completion tomorrow.

Tower Laundry owner Colin Storey said he was told the works would take between seven and eight weeks and that the council had agreed to do one side at a time.

“It just didn’t happen and they blamed it on Telstra,” Mr Storey said.

With the road closed for 10 weeks, leaving no nearby car parks, he said he’d lost up to 80 per cent of his business during one of the busiest times of the year.

“It’s poor planning, it’s poor timing and it’s lack of consultation,” he said.

“I rely on people to be able to park because they are carrying heavy containers of washing.”

Meanwhile, Wodonga Beauty Room owner Olivia Watkins said she’d lost 90 per cent of her clientele, whose purchase of Christmas gift vouchers got her through the winter.

“It’s our busiest week of the year and they were supposed to have opened it and they haven’t opened it,” Ms Watkins said.

“They should have consulted with businesses first.

“If I had have known I would have tried to put a stop to it.”

But a Wodonga Council spokeswoman said engineers visited the two shops as early as July and notice of the road works had been in every edition of their newsletter since May.

Wodonga Council planning and infrastructure director Leon Schultz said it wasn’t until the tender was awarded in October that officers could visit the affected business with the project’s plans.

Mr Schultz said the work needed to be completed before Christmas so that work could start on Elgin Boulevard in January.

The spokeswoman said the owners would not have been told the road would be completed one side at a time because it wasn’t logistically possible.

She said the project had finished two weeks before schedule and the businesses had only been affected for seven weeks, with their side of the street left open for the first three.

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