Small businesses suffering a downturn in revenue because of the bungled Sydney Light Rail construction could soon have a dedicated Member of Parliament defending their rights.
Independent City of Sydney Councillor Angela Vithoulkas plans to enter state politics as leader of the ‘Small Business Matters Party.’
After fighting uphill battles in local government for the better part of a decade, she says she “hasn’t stopped getting angry” about the mistreatment of small business owners, and now believes representation for the neglected community must exist at both a state and federal level.
Also the owner of Cafe Vivo on George Street, the second-term councillor has watched her visitor numbers steadily decline in the three years since light rail construction began. Constant drilling and bleeping, unsightly scaffolding, confusing pedestrian detours and erratic traffic changes have all turned the once thriving George Street into a dismally unappealing destination, causing customers to shun the route and take their money elsewhere.
After two years of advocacy, tirelessly imploring City of Sydney Council to address the dilemma, a small win has finally come through. Just two months ago, the state government announced rent relief would be offered to businesses negatively affected by the construction chaos.
But Cr Vithoulkas says it’s too little too late. Many businesses on the path have already closed down, and still more are endangered, missing out on rent relief because they don’t fit the stringent criteria.
“Hundreds of small business owners have been calling me every week, asking me what to do,” she told City Hub. “But it’s taken two years to get the government to acknowledge there was a problem. If it took me that long [as a councillor,] then what chance does anyone else have?”