“It’s like Russian roulette”: Lygon St traders reiterate calls for footpath revamp

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Brendan Rees

Carlton traders have once again voiced their concerns over the state of footpaths along Lygon St, calling for urgent upgrades to improve pedestrian safety and the streetscape.

Traders argue the current condition of the footpaths was hazardous, with cracking and lifting around street trees becoming a common sight.

Carlton business association, Carlton Inc. said traders had repeatedly told the City of Melbourne that the footpaths were in desperate need of repair, and that their poor condition had also impacted on the aesthetic appeal of the popular dining strip, but “nothing has happened”.

“It’s not getting any better and we’ve had no response from council,” Carlton Inc. executive officer Phillip Mansour said.

Mr Mansour said he was particularly disappointed that the council had not taken any action to fix the issue given the Inner City News had run a front page story in its June 2023 edition.

“Since we had the front-page photo, they (the council) responded by putting a witch’s hat on the footpath (where a tree had caused serious damage to a section of the footpath), but it was gone after a week,” he said.

“The damage is still there; nothing’s changed. What does it take for something to be done?”

 

 

In a statement, the City of Melbourne said Lygon St had been identified as a “priority area”, with some footpath renewal works completed outside Trades Hall at the corner of Lygon St and Victoria St.

“Community consultation for further upgrade works along the full length of Lygon St is set to take place in 2024,” it said.

Tiamo restaurant owner, Fab Succi, said a plane tree out the front of his business had lifted the pavement creating a tripping hazard, which he had reported to the council but they have “just ignored it like nothing has happened”.

“It’s like Russian roulette, sooner or later someone is going to trip over … council has got to have some liability.”

“It needs to be fixed especially heading into a busy Christmas trade, but nevertheless, they [the council] should be attending to where the problem is straight away instead of ignoring it.”

Another trader, Angelo Gibaldi, owner of Stuzzichino Restaurant and Bar, said he had to re-tile his venue at a cost of $7500 after it was damaged by street tree roots.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous. We’re paying a permit to have tables [for outdoor dining] and you can’t even utilise the space,” he said.

As previously reported by Inner City News, Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Dimi Ioannou, who specialised 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.

The City of Melbourne said it had invested more than $12 million to upgrade, renew and maintain roads and footpaths across almost 80 locations. 

“Footpath upgrade and renewal programs are set each financial year, and locations chosen are based on a range of factors – including safety, community need, and time since renewal or maintenance work.”

 

 

In addition to the footpath issue, traders also expressed disappointment over the outdated and lacklustre Christmas decorations in Lygon St, saying it was “looking more bleak than ever”.

“Given we’ve come out of COVID, it’s been tough times, businesses are trying to flourish. It’s a feel-good thing especially with families coming down to have some Christmas cheer but that’s not even available, it’s sad,” Mr Succi said. •

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