Thursday, September 23, 2004

William street contracts all signed by this council?

Cries of 'save William Street' rang out at regular intervals during Monday's council forum at the Crest Hotel.

These followed a passionate speech from Lawrrence Gibbons, East Sydney resident and publisher of The Hub and The News, in which he pleaded for council to spare William Street from the worst of the Gateway formula.

Many were flabbergasted to hear the plan involved reducing the street to one lane each way, a move said to be driven by the desire to squelch the prostitution and so-called kerb-crawling that has been a feature of the street for decades (Remember Richard Clapton's 'Girrls on the Arvenu'?). It was suggested this would just drive it deeper into surrounding residential areas.

Council's response included the usual mantra of 'there's nothing we can do because all the contracts have been signed,' laying the blame on the previous council.

However a source from within Town Hall tells us that no contracts had been signed at the time the last council was sacked (in preparation for the forced amalgamation). If this is true, it means any existing contracts were signed by this council or during the caretaker period between the sacking and the elections.

Mr Gibbons' speech also pointed out the utter stupidity of working on William Street at the same time as the Oxford St streetworks. He suggested giving the street sex trade a whole building to operate from. This resonated with another idea running around that what is needed is a drive-in brothel!

William Street is rapidly turning into a retail graveyard and the Gateway solution applies the usual sterile solution of yet more cafes. There has been no overall study of the business dynamics, demographic changes and government decisions which have lead to the death of retail in William Street and the Cross. Such a study is urgently needed lest the solutions are again handed over to big developers who will no doubt build more alienating apartment towers with characterless retail units at street level and huge underground carparks feeding into the single traffic lane.

Laying grey granite and planting schmartpoles among the plane trees to light endless al fresco cafes is a vision so simplistic as to be almost laughable. For Gorsake stop laughing -- this is serious, mate!

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