Opinion by ANDREW WOODHOUSE
Who dared whisper that Santa Claus is not real?
After Sydney Council community meetings, plans and counter plans, discussions, arguments and accusations, Clover Moore’s public panacea for Macleay Street, Potts Point, is now a nihilism. All so-called “upgrade” plans have come to nothing. The much-maligned “vision” concept has been quietly cancelled on Christmas Eve during a slow news period. No official announcement has been made.
Councillor Angela Vithoulkas, founder of the Small Business Party and a City of Sydney Councillor for two terms has texted: “it’s cancelled … I believe it was from inside pressure applied from a couple of councillors and the local community.”
Vithoulkas has spent more than thirty years in business and time and time again seen the difficulties faced by small business owners across a wide range of issues.
She is actively involved with Sydney’s small business and start-up community.
Vithoulkas’ career in public and business life has been acknowledged through numerous awards including City of Sydney Business of the Year, Café of The Year, NSW Entrepreneur of the Year as well as 2007 Telstra Women’s Business Owner of the Year. In 2015 she was also named as one of Australia’s fifty Influential Women Entrepreneurs, and in 2017, she was named as one of Australia’s Top Nine Influential Female Entrepreneurs.
Her own Vivo Café on George Street was subject to horrendous noise and disruption due to the infamous George Street light rail demolition and alterations. Legal action ensued.
So, Santa has delivered a welcome Christmas gift to local residents and businesses.
They can breathe easier knowing the street won’t become an archaeological dig with pneumatic drills and back hoes from 7am blocking entrance ways and reducing foot traffic for 12 months.
Love your work, Santa.
Upbraiding the upgrade
Warren Fahey, co-administrator of a lobby group called the Potts Pointers has claimed in local media that “I can assure readers that the long-overdue program to improve this important street has strong community support”.
But this now seems unconvincing and in any event hasn’t persuaded council or the community he refers to, apparently. He claims his /council plans “salute the street’s unique heritage”, but how? With over-sized, commercial tacky banners, hot, hard, black granite pavers, sterile bus stop shelters, and removing the right-turn into Greenknowe Avenue from Macleay Street? Not likely.
Clearly, council does not have its finger on the community pulse. It might also be looking at potential legal action or the Saturday 20th September 2020 council election day, when locals will be having their say at the ballot box about this council’s top-down arrogance, ignorance and negligence.
Locals say the plans were misconceived and welcome the news of the “upgrade” cancellation. They hope “cancelled” does not mean postponement until after the elections. They are alert, alarmed and all lawyered-up.
And Santa might have more to say about council. There is a lack of Christmas decorations in Kings Cross and Potts Point.
Clover Grinch has come to town. Not one light has appeared. The usual tired, fake tree, set well back in Fitzroy Gardens, doesn’t not add to or help create a festive joie de vivre on the main street.
Surely this council, with all its mega-money can splash out once a year for one week in areas that pay big bucks in rates?
Look overseas to Bond Street, London, or New York, “the city that never sleeps” both bedazzling global cities.
If Sydney wants to go global it needs to talk the talk as well as walk the walk
Or don’t look overseas.
Look south instead to the culture capital, Melbourne, with its eight-day mini-festival and famous Christmas markets.
Is this council too tired to worry?
Too tired to care?
Too tired to put its constituents first?