Trader standing for Wodonga Council says businesses were left $100,000 out of pocket because of the city's approach to High Street work

HIGH Street traders lost between $35,000 and $100,000 because of Wodonga Council works on the strip, a dress shop owner has revealed.

Genevieve Boutique proprietor Dawn George outlined the financial hit at a forum for candidates standing in next month’s Wodonga Council election.

She was among 22 of 24 candidates who attended the gathering on Tuesday night organised by the Ratepayers Association of Wodonga.

Mrs George said short notice about work in 2014 left her overstocked and she feared the impact of a further upgrade and a planned 20km/h shared zone trial.

“Most businesses lost between the price of a small car, maybe $35,000, up to the price of a big four-wheel drive, about $100,000,” Mrs George said.

Lining up: Candidate Ray Snell speaks at the Ratepayers Association's candidates' forum which saw 22 of 24 contenders for election to Wodonga speak to an audience of 70 to 80 at the city's RSL club.

Lining up: Candidate Ray Snell speaks at the Ratepayers Association's candidates' forum which saw 22 of 24 contenders for election to Wodonga speak to an audience of 70 to 80 at the city's RSL club.

She said she believed in the changes but urged the council to alter its approach.

“We all know in business you look after your good customers and I think council has to look after us because we pay the rates,” she said.

Fellow candidate Ron Mildren, a planning specialist, said the council was alienating would-be consumers.

“What we’re doing in Wodonga, in terms of a commercial centre, is directing everybody across to Albury’s commercial centre,” he said.

“We’re putting ring roads around the town centre, we’re putting speed humps around the town centre, we’re making it absolutely inconvenient for people to come and shop here.

“I deal with lots of people that come from Tallangatta, Corryong, the Upper Murray, Mount Beauty and a whole range of other places.

“They say to me ‘it’s so damned inconvenient to shop in Wodonga now, we either go to White Box if we have to or we go to Albury’, because you can get on the ring road and go straight to Albury, you go around the central area of Wodonga straight to Albury.

“It’s directing all the business away from the central heart of Wodonga.

“It’s a flawed policy and it needs to be changed.”

Candidate Peter Smith, who has met High Street traders, said he would vote against any work occurring in the short term while the Manns and Safeway developments were proceeding.

Rates, debt, hills planning, transparency and communication were other concerns raised at the forum.

The two absent candidates were mayor Anna Speedie, with a prior engagement, and Brian Mitchell who was helping someone with surgery.

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