Australia Shops struggling amid light rail construction dealt another blow

13:12  17 may  2018
13:12  17 may  2018 Source:   9news.com.au

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Tenants have leases with Transport for NSW that stipulate the government has exclusive electricity billing rights.

Steve Duff has owned and operated City Extra Restaurant for 30 years.

In January, he was charged $9308 on his power bill just for that month, with his peak charge coming in at 24 cents a kilowatt/hour.

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Just a few hundred metres away, VIVO Cafe on George St is charged 10 cents a kilowatt/hour.

Mr Duff's lease means he cannot look for a cheaper price.

"It's very frustrating especially in light of the increases," Mr Duff said.

"It's unsustainable."

Workmen walk past the George St Sydney CBD Light Rail Project construction site. © AAP Image/Mick Tsikas Workmen walk past the George St Sydney CBD Light Rail Project construction site. Mr Duff has seen his business lose half its trade as a result of the light rail construction that backs onto his store.

The government also put up signs during last year's Vivid Festival to direct people away from the Circular Quay shops and on Australia Day there was a boarded-up fence obstructing the view of Sydney Harbour.

Mr Duff and other shopkeepers pay a premium in rent to access the views and foot traffic that Sydney Harbour provides.

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Light rail construction along George Street has again missed completion deadlines. Labor's transport spokeswoman, Jodi McKay, said the government should consider financial assistance to help struggling businesses.

Small Business Matters candidate and business owner, Angela Vithoulkas, claims Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s government is rubbing salt into the wounds.

"There seems to be a conscious effort by state government to actually stop trading at key events that would help carry through a crisis period," Ms Vithoulkas said.

Considering the CBD South East Light Rail is now at least 12 months behind schedule, Transport Minister Andrew Constance will offer a 25 percent discount on rents at Circular Quay, backdated to December 2017.

"For some of those small businesses, this is literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in their pocket," Minister Constance said.

"They're under enormous strain, we recognise their pain and we are obviously apologetic the Spanish contractor is taking their time."

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