Cafe trade dries up as Queen’s Baton Relay comes to CBD

Picture: NONI HYETT
Picture: NONI HYETT

UPDATE, 5pm: The City of Greater Bendigo says road closures that dampened morning trade were part of strict security measures mandated by Commonwealth Games organisers and police.

And while the council acknowledged businesses and residents had been impacted, the council said in a statement that the city had worked hard to ensure people were aware of, and able to make alternative arrangements, for the event.

“The route was determined by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation,” the council said.

“All traders and residents within and near the exclusion zone were notified of the closure. The city was aware of the impact the relay would have and has worked constructively with traders and organisations on ways to minimise the impact.”

The statement said council staff had worked closely with affected schools, businesses and public transport coordinators over many months to manage the impact of the event.

“Information has been released via the city’s website, social media, the GB Magazine which goes to every household in Greater Bendigo and through the broadcast media since November, when the route was announced,” it said.

“Half and full page advertisements were placed in the Bendigo Advertiser in the lead up to the event.”

EARLIER: Cafe owners and managers say closing the CBD for the Queen’s Baton Relay has come with a dramatic drop in morning trade.

Bendigo Wholefoods Kitchen manager Tim Dalton hoped authorities thought through the affects on businesses a little better next time around.

“It’s been very, very quiet this morning. This closure has been quite detrimental to businesses in town,” he said.

El Gordo owner Haley Aldred estimated morning trade had dropped by 70 per cent.

Sim’r owner Randall Blakemore’s store was devoid of customers as the baton moved past the Hargreaves St premises. His business relied heavily on customers during the breakfast and lunch periods.

“I think you can see how trade is going. It’s not a very good Valentines Day,” he said.

“We don’t want to whinge all the time but this is making it really difficult.”

Mr Blakemore said Sim’r owners had been unsure how the morning traffic closure in the CBD would affect trade and had taken the decision to fully staff their cafe.

He said deliveries had cost extra today because of the distance that goods needed to be carried from truck to store.

Ms Aldred said deliveries to her store had also been affected, with some suppliers not aware of road closures until they arrived in the CBD this morning.

She wished the baton relay had been better advertised, which could have averted some of her suppliers’ problems.

It could also have attracted more people to the CBD and bolstered trade, she said.

All cafe owners contacted by the Bendigo Advertiser hoped trade would pick up later in the day.

Other businesses in the CBD had fared better. Two florists contacted by the Advertiser had been flat out with deliveries all morning.

Mitchell Street Florist owner Sally Byrne said trade may only have been marginally affected by reduced foot-traffic.

Her business had worked around road closures blocking drivers from delivering to businesses in the immediate vicinity.

The City of Greater Bendigo has been contacted for comment.

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