High St works prompt Maria to quit her job

THE pain has started to kick in for central Wodonga businesses affected by major road works.

Shop assistant Maria Berry has voluntarily stood herself down from her job with High Street women’s fashion boutique, Seiburn, to help its owners survive the three-month road closure.

She feared there would be more job losses.

And she said some businesses may be forced to close as a result of the downturn during the $4.3 million re-alignment of Elgin Street that started a month ago.

“We can beautify the road, but if we lose these people, we are losing so much,” she said.

“It’s so important we retain what we’ve got.

“I am not against the road works, but we’ve got to work together and plan for the next three months or we could all be doomed.

“We’ve got to engage with each other to get through this.

“I am only a little person and no one special, but I am passionate about keeping those shops in High Street open.

“They are like my family — they are beautiful people.”

Mrs Berry has arranged a meeting with the city’s council on Monday and will raise some suggestions to help the businesses.

These include a free bus service to High Street and rates and rental discounts during the works period.

“We’ve probably got three months or more of this,” she said.

“Why can’t they do a double shift on the works to get them done quicker?”

Mrs Berry said she had worked in High Street for five years and had never seen such tough trading conditions.

She said the summer heatwave had also stopped shoppers visiting High Street.

Mayor Rod Wangman yesterday agreed businesses would be experiencing hardship.

“I am pleased with the progress we are making,” he said.

“What is the alternative to the works?

“You can’t rebuild the CBD overnight and it is positive for Wodonga.

“I think we’ve made the best effort we can at the best time available.”

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