The project director for Sydney’s south-east light rail expansion suggested Surry Hills business owners ‘take a holiday to Bali’ while construction is underway, a community activist says.
People Unite Surry Hills, a community group campaigning against the proposed rail route along Devonshire Street, said shop operators will be “financially ruined” by the disruption. They accused light rail project director Jeff Goodling of insensitivity to their plight.
“I couldn’t believe Mr Goodling’s remark when I heard it,” said Venietta Slama-Powell, the group’s convener.
“Business owners cannot simply pack-up, sack staff and suspend rent payments for six months.”
Mr Goodling denies advising business owners to take a holiday in Bali but acknowledges his words may have been misunderstood.
“Mr Goodling was answering a range of questions from business owners, and apologises if his comments were misinterpreted,” a Transport for NSW spokesperson said.
“Transport for NSW is committed to minimising business disruption during the construction of the City South East Light Rail.”
Ms Slama-Powell said the state government is being stingy with the compensation it is prepared to pay residents and business owners in Surry Hills. She also accused the City of Sydney of having abandoned the suburb.
According to a study by the Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce cited by PUSH, more than 13 per cent of businesses around the Gold Coast’s new light rail closed due to the construction.
Transport for NSW said it has examined the Gold Coast example and will apply those lessons to the Sydney south-east expansion project.
But local business owners should not hold their breath for financial assistance.
“Transport for NSW does not generally compensate for loss of revenue claimed during construction or operation,” the spokesperson said.