Acland Street, St Kilda, Closure

I recently met again with representatives of the Acland Street, St Kilda, traders group to listen to their further concerns about the planned Acland Street tram upgrade. This plan is further confirmation that the Labor Party just does not get business or understand how it operates. Public Transport Victoria intends to implement a radical plan under which more than 50 of the already minimal number of car parking spaces will be removed from Acland Street to allow tram route 96 to be expanded from one track to two. The changes will see the southern half of Acland Street turned into a new plaza closed to traffic, and the northern end of Acland Street will continue to be shared by trams and cars between Carlisle and Belford streets. The Acland Street traders have tried every method and gone down every avenue to get the message through to this government that if you remove 50 car parks and restrict people accessing the area, you will dramatically cut their business. To those who do not understand or do not care, it may seem that creating a micromall — called such because it is to be a ridiculously small space — and replacing the currently functional tram stop and line and through road with a giant tram stop and additional line covering the majority of the road is a great idea. But if your business relies on customers being able to conveniently access your shop and you are competing with numerous other traders in nearby locations that will not suffer such impediments, it is nothing less than sabotage. The traders believe that this disastrous plan will turn what is currently one of Melbourne's unique shopping experiences for locals, other Melbournians and tourists alike into little more than a set of tram terminus shops catering for local commuters. Traders have warned that businesses which have been operating in Acland Street for decades will have to close or relocate to other shopping areas where customers can park nearby. The Acland Street traders have tried everything to stop the Andrews government taking the wrecking ball to this precious community asset, but with the same bullying approach that the Premier has used on our 60 000 Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers, the CFA board and its CEO, and his own emergency services minister, they were told to get on board or get out of the way.