Inner West Independent

Leichhardt to trial free footpath licences

Balmain's Darling Street is set to get a boost. Source: Amitch at English Wikipedia

Leichhardt Council has cut red tape for local businesses in an effort to boost the suburb’s dwindling economy.

This week, Leichhardt Council announced they would trial a removal of application fees for footpath licences, giving shops free use of the footpath for advertising and displaying products

Local business owner Wally Alameddine welcomed the decision and said current prices were putting pressure on his fruit and vegetable shop.

“I pay $345 every quarter because I’ve got flowers at the front of my fruit shop. I’d definitely be happy to pay cheaper rates to the council,” he said.

Mr Alameddine also thought the fee reduction would attract businesses to fill the increasingly vacant shop fronts.

“If council is reasonable about the fees, more businesses will start coming in,” he said.

A statement from Leichhardt Council indicated that from October 1, application fees for footpath licenses and A-frame advertising will be waived.

A free weekend license for use of the footpath for selling products is also part of the plan.

Any businesses that have already paid fees for the trial period will have these fees refunded.

A council spokesperson told City Hub that it was important for council to support local businesses.

“A strong local business sector is good for our whole community, as main streets are a pivotal part of our social fabric,” the spokesperson said.

Leichhardt Mayor Rochelle Porteous said the decision was about council helping local business through tough times.

“This just the latest in a string of initiatives we are attempting to help the cut costs and boost trades,” she said in a statement.

President of the Balmain- Rozelle Chamber of Commerce Stephen Bastian said he was glad council had listened to the chamber’s ideas.

Mr Bastian said that the council had first propositioned introducing market stalls in front of shop fronts, with which he disagreed.

“Why have markets? They’re only going to take business away from the shop owners who are already starving. So why don’t we make the street look like a market by actually allowing them to sell their stock on the street,” he said.

The trial will run until June 2016.

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