PEOPLE power has been swung into action in a last gasp bid to stop a long-standing Birallee Village shopping centre business losing its internal access into the centre.
More than 50 regular customers of the West Wodonga shopping centre's newsagency-post office outlet attended a hastily arranged protest yesterday to show their support for business owner, Marlene Smedley, who is being forced into another shop to allow for expansion of Chemist Warehouse.
The shop she presently operates can be accessed from inside and outside the shopping centre.
"The people who have come here today are every day people who wanted to be here," he said.
"It wasn't a staged event and showed people are genuinely unhappy with what is going on.
"We've got to try something."
A petition launched by Mr Deegan has attracted more than 1000 signatures.
Mrs Smedley has been a tenant of the centre since 1986 and the former pharmacy shop she is moving into also had internal and external access before closing recently.
Peter Wilson, another long-term customer, said the business was being unfairly treated.
"You've got a business that has provided a vital service, but right from day one they've struggled to get a fair go," he said.
"They've been rail-roaded into moving and have tried to get changes made, but have been over-ruled.
"It seems to be a classic example of the bigger you are, the more power you've got.
"It's a disgrace."
Stefan Andrews said his biggest concern was safety.
"With one entrance what happens if there is a fire?" he said.
"Where the hell are you going to go?"
"West Wodonga is the growth area of Wodonga and they are just making things harder."
Helena Harber said the present arrangements worked perfectly.
"They've got two entrances now and why should that be taken away from them?" she queried.
"Why should they have to sacrifice a doorway for Chemist Warehouse?"
The newsagency-post office was one of the original businesses when the centre first opened in 1986.