Tauranga business owners fed up

Businesses in the CBD are asking for compassion and empathy as they work to make the city centre as vibrant as they can, while faced with challenging obstacles. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Mainstreet Tauranga is taking a stand and saying “enough” to the negativity surrounding Tauranga’s Central Business District.

Before Mayor Greg Brownless and Tauranga City Council elected members today, Sally Cooke pleaded for people to show empathy and compassion for those who are doing business in Downtown Tauranga, while the city centre goes through exceptional circumstances.

“Right now, as we are all patently aware, our city centre in going through exceptional circumstances. We are already beginning to see some of the outcomes with the opening of the University of Waikato city centre campus and other developments,” says the chief executive of Tuscany.

“The future looks incredibly bright. However, the reality today is extremely stressful and challenging for many of our members.”

Sally says Councillor Leanne Brown has highlighted the damage that negatively and badly framed headlines can have on a business and on the city centre.

Sally was joined by Millie, Brian and other members of Mainstreet Tauranga at today’s Projects, Services and Operations Committee meeting.

“We are here today to give a stronger voice to our members. We are here to ask everyone in this room to remember and see the human face of our city centre and to have greater empathy,” says Sally.

“The scale of works across our city is unprecedented and with it comes severe restrictions on access, parking and a perception that the city is empty and hard to get around. However, at the heart of this city centre is some of the most passionate and parochial business owners and operators.”

She says they turn up every day, face a barrage of obstacles and constraints and brick bats from the media and the public.

They carry on, they stock their shelves, they set their tables, they open their doors and they hope that the public, that we, will support them and help them trade through this.

“Significantly negative and damaging headlines, a lack of sufficient consultation and communication and a general feeling of ‘it is what it is, cope with it.’ all simply serve to push our members to a place of extreme stress.

“As champions of the Downtown Tauranga community we say, enough. We are here to ask, where is everyone?

“Where is the leadership from you, our elected members? Where is the community support and when did it become okay to constantly demean the city centre?

“Yes, we have our struggles, but when people and the media attack the city centre they are attacking our people.”

Sally asked the council in considering their streetscapes programme of works, that they don’t just consider approving the funding but put measures in place to ensure members and the city centre stakeholders are fully consulted and collaborated with to consider the best timing for these planned works.

“We ask that you understand that our members did not sign up for this disruption when they set up their businesses. They did not sign up for this level of access and parking restrictions.

“Durham street members did not sign up for the delays that have befallen the project and Devonport Road businesses did not sign up for the number and volume of earthquake strengthening works required.”

Devonport Road on a summer's day.

In an effort to try and combat the constant negativity thrown at the CBD, Sally says they are about to launch a strong media and PR campaign to tangibly and more proactively support the city centre.

The organisation is doing what it can to promote its different sectors through tangible events such as Look Fashion Month and the current Taste Tauranga, with more 30 events across our hospitality sector this month.

“But our resources are limited and we need more help during these exceptional times,” says Sally.

“We will be back at the appropriate time asking you to work in partnership with us to deliver more on the Response Plan and Action Plan, the Activate Vacant Spaces initiative and to enable our care package of promotional plans to continue. We need to fund outcomes that benefit our members.

“We support investment in our city centre. We support growth and development. However, we continue to call for better planning, consultation and implementation with our city centre stakeholders and members.

“For example, the Durham Street original planned streetscapes were supposed to be completed prior to the University opening.

“The Harrington Street carpark build, if it had been completed as originally planned, would have opened prior to Christmas.”

Sally says if these projects had been delivered on time, “we would not now still have Harington Street, Hamilton Street and Spring Street closed”.

“We also question whether Harington and Hamilton actually need to be closed off for the length of time that they are?

“These three streets alone significantly restrict access into and around our city.”

Wharf Street has been a better example of good communication and consultation.

“We hope this continues, if the streetscape project is approved to proceed, so that our members continue to be fully engaged and involved in the planning and timing.

“In the meantime, we ask you to take a moment and consider what else can you do, on the human face of it, to support our members?”

Sally is imploring council members to walk the streets and call into businesses and see how they are doing.

“A friendly smile, a coffee, a listening ear will not fix anything but it shows compassion, empathy and emotional support, it shows you fronting up.

“I don’t believe I am overstating it when I say that Millie, myself and the rest of the Mainstreet team see a thread of stress across our members the likes of which we have not seen before and that gravely concerns us.

“We need help, to help them more, and we need to do that proactively and collectively.”

 




11 Comments

@DaveyRich

Posted on 07-08-2019 13:06 | By morepork

I agree with you 100%. But I see the warzone as being temporary and, hopefully, when it is complete, the CBD will be revitalized. Meanwhile there are many factors contributing to the decline and, as TCC are ultimately responsible, they should be taking action to support retailers during this trying time. I also agree with the article that there is far too much negativity and carping and it really doesn’t help. The single most effective positive action would be free parking days, or a scheme as Bruja suggested, at least while construction is going on.

Perhaps

Posted on 07-08-2019 09:01 | By nerak

Sally has come across as blaming the ‘public’, customers, as negative towards the businesses. Surely she didn’t mean that. We all know the present bomb site which is our downtown can be blamed solely on TCC planning. I said over a year ago, all this should have been staged, maybe a block at a time. As it’s happened, it’s no wonder people don’t go downtown now. That American who thought it was jolly wonderful, doesn’t live here, what would he know. Lunch on the Strand a year ago was a lonely experience on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the eatery was hurting badly. Wonder if they still hurt. And I’ve heard tourists say they won’t come back. Sadly businesses are in for a lot more hurt before this mess is cleaned up. TCC, hang your heads in shame.

@ AuntyMinnie

Posted on 07-08-2019 08:28 | By nerak

What a great idea, why don’t you approach Farmers and maybe they can get that rolling. I can’t see TCC doing anything proactive on such a positive thought.

To little to late

Posted on 06-08-2019 21:09 | By Accountable

Mainstreet members have been waiting years for some support from its organisation but this offering is only a token gesture and appears to lack genuine empathy for its membership. Why was it not proposed by our board members instead of the contractor?The members contribute around $300,000.00 and the retailers whom are being affected the most by the shambles in the CBD get very little return from that money. The board does run the cruise ship shuttle service for its members but insist on charging the passengers $15.00 per ticket return for the 15 km journey when in reality it should be operated for cost only. We do have an accessibility problem but parking and its charges are the biggest complaint we get from our customers and that must be the first issue for Council to confront. We get a huge amount of support and sympathy from our customers.

Support Tauranga

Posted on 06-08-2019 19:41 | By AuntyMinnie

I have lived in Tauranga since 1976. I think it is a wonderful city. I feel so sad for the remaining shop keepers and support shopping in Tauranga 100%. Suggest using pop up Farmers departments in some of the empty shops in Devonport Road such as kitchen ware, under ware, boutique clothing. Have a click and collect counter for on-line shoppers. Farmers moving out has had the largest impact, so bring some of it back in a smaller format. Support Tauranga City, it is a great place. TCC give shoppers free parking too. Diana Haycock

Typical

Posted on 06-08-2019 18:58 | By Slim Shady

No good blaming “negative people and media” for making a complete hash of it. Council need to own their own mess and stop trying to bull**** their way out of it. That’s not negative, just true.

Great.

Posted on 06-08-2019 18:28 | By tabatha

I feel sorry for the business owners. The stupidity of allowing so much reconstruction plus lack of access to businesses. Our City Fathets are not listening to the people. Their action stops people wanting to head back if and when construction is finished. Time for the City Hall workers to realise where their pay comes from.

Feel sad for retailers

Posted on 06-08-2019 17:37 | By Kancho

Yes I feel for the retailers. The opening of The Crossing and the re vamp of Bayfair has Syphoned off customers I think. Recently parking charges increased albeit not alot but it did remind me of trying to find parking and of course paying for the pleasure. This is less of a problem at aforesaid shopping centres having free parking. Seems the council are working against the retailers and should have made parking free in town at least until the works are completed not increased the price. Sadly it seems policy says discourage cars with the hope people will use the bus. Sadly no, as time and convenience says no. Havent been for a while now not sure my meagre needs will boost the shop takings.

Appalling

Posted on 06-08-2019 17:19 | By Cory tauranga

I feel sorry for everyone who has a business in the cbd. I’m actually shocked at how the council has dealt with it. I like many others have been avoiding town like it’s the plague. When ever I go thier I get stuck at dead ends, I almost need a map to navigate the roads and I’ve lived in tauranga for 30yrs.

DO WHAT I SUGGESTED SEVERAL YEARS AGO

Posted on 06-08-2019 16:52 | By Bruja

Let citizens choose any two-hour period per week (the two-hour period stays the same every week to facilitate an- easy- to monitor system). Then they get a printed sticker to put on their windshield showing the two hour time-slot they have chosen. They can park in any available parking in the CBD FOR FREE during the period they have chosen. It will bring people back to the CBD, keeps the parking turnover happening is cheap to set up and is easily monitored by meter attendants. Normal fines will occur for anyone parking without paying if it’s outside of their chosen time. A 5 minute ’allowance’ can be given at the end of the period just to be ’fair’.

Dave Richards

Posted on 06-08-2019 16:41 | By davey rich

What you need is good stewardship at the council people who actually are interested in making the city a pleasurable place to visit whether to work shop or just look around, not the bomb site that resembles a warzone. Sadly I find it a place to avoid.

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