“Fix our footpaths”: Lygon St traders’ plea to council for action
Fed-up Lygon St traders are calling for urgent action to be taken on the deteriorating footpaths of the iconic Carlton strip, which they say have become unsafe and unattractive.
“Traders have been here forever telling me these discussions have been going for 20 years, so it doesn’t give them any confidence that anything’s going to happen,” Carlton Inc. Traders’ Association president Sergio Alderuccio said.
“We’re famous, we just want to maintain that love affair. We’ve got new shops that are opening so people are coming back; we’ve just got to keep making it safer and attractive.”
Traders have long expressed their concern to the City of Melbourne about the state of the footpaths, which recently resulted in a much-loved 88-year-old Carlton figure being injured after tripping and falling because of a tree root lifting up a section of the pavement.
Paul Ferraro, who runs the University Café, said he and other traders were at their wits’ end over the issue.
“It seems like every time we try to do something to beautify the street, they’re always against us,” he said.
It’s an absolute disgrace. I’ve been here nearly 38 years and I reckon they’ve redone that asphalt four times and every time it just gets worse.
Traders say they are also “constantly adjusting the tables and chairs” because of the uneven surfaces.
The council has indicated that it said it would inspect the footpath on Lygon St as part of its routine maintenance program.
“The City of Melbourne has invested more than $12 million in its draft Budget 2023–24 to renew and maintain roads and footpaths across almost 80 locations,” a council spokesperson said.
“Footpath renewal programs are set each financial year, and locations chosen are dependent on a range of factors – including safety, community need, and time since renewal or maintenance work.”
“Any potential renewal along Lygon St will be done in close consultation with traders and community members.”
But traders feel they are being let down, with Mr Alderuccio saying they are “concerned about a gradual decline” to Lygon St unless something was done.
Mr Alderuccio, together with Carlton Inc. executive officer Phillip Mansour, met with Lord Mayor Sally Capp last December to discuss ways of beautifying the Carlton precinct, including footpaths.
Mr Mansour said traders wanted the “extra support” and hoped the council would provide a commitment.
He said the council’s announcement in the budget was “a very generic plan” with “nothing locked in for Carlton yet again”.
“We don’t want to be running around in circles for another 38 years – immediate consultation and action is needed.”
He added that tactile ground surface indicators, which are raised bumps or lines in the pavement to assist people with disabilities and the wider community to navigate the streets, were also dangerous in wet conditions and needed replacing – a concern also raised by residents in East Melbourne.
Fab Succi, owner of Tiamo restaurant on Lygon St, said he had issues with tree roots lifting the footpath, adding “it’s only a matter of time that one of my customers fall”.
“The council has been made aware, and also in the interim, the root has travelled through the building and has lifted the floor and shifted the window frame,” he said.
“It’s pretty bad damage, we’ve got a massive crack down the middle.”
Beverley Caprioli said her husband Giancarlo, 88, who was part of the wave of Italian migrants to transform Lygon St, tripped and fell to the footpath two months ago.
“He ended up with a diabetic ulcer on his leg, which took six weeks to heal, as well as an operation to improve the blood flow,” she said.
“It shows that we’re not really being looked after by council.”
While Inner City News was speaking to traders, a woman visiting from Perth, also nearly fell to the ground after tripping.
“If I had been more aged than what I am I would’ve gone right over because I just didn’t see it,” she said.
Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Dimi Ioannou, who specialises in personal injury law, said all councils had a responsibility to ensure footpaths were safe for all pedestrians and the City of Melbourne was no exception.
She said people could pursue legal action if they suffered serious injuries. •