DOZENS of traders have broken away or been dumped from the Bridge Mall Association, in a move to create more value for the rates that members pay.
Only traders fronting onto the Bridge Mall or Bakery Hill will be included in the group for the next five years, while second floor businesses, and shops fronting Curtis and Little Bridge streets, are no longer part of the association.
Ballarat’s City Council’s draft budget showed the number of properties paying the Bridge Mall special rate would drop from 130 in 2012-13 to 104 in the coming financial year.
The initiative has been praised by some but it has left other business owners disappointed.
Book Bazaar owner John Nunn said it had come as a welcome development for traders on the Curtis Street side of the mall, who had now formed their own break-away association.
Mr Nunn said the break-away members felt they could make better use of the money to promote themselves.
“We’re now looking at group advertising programs that promote our unique shops,” he said.
Ballarat Barber Shop owner Geoff Johnson said that under the old arrangement, his Curtis Street business was treated “like the second course at a wedding”, despite being subject to a 47 per cent increase in rates.
“We hardly ever featured on their advertisements and the security guys, we hardly saw them,” he said.
“We felt we were the unloved ones.”
But one Bridge Street business owner, who wished to remain anonymous in case he was targeted by vandals, said it was disappointing to be dropped from the association, which had provided access to its security and CCTV services.
He said a push by businesses in Curtis Street to leave the association meant businesses on his side of the mall would not be supported in the event of security issues.
“The Little Bridge Street side had no other choice but to adhere to that,” he said.
“We’re the ones that need to be supported because of all the associated issues with the bus shelter across the road.”
Bridge Mall Traders Association president David Maloney said it had more to offer the properties fronting onto the mall, but it was not an ‘us and them’ situation.
“It’s not like we wanted to drop people off,” he said.
“Some still wanted to be included but we had to take heed of both parties. They’re still our neighbours ... we’re an approachable body if people need help and support in some way.”