At loggerheads: Stirling councillors deadlocked over compensation of Scarborough businesses

The extensive and long-drawn works at Scarborough have stretched businesses there to the limit, even forcing some to close down.
The extensive and long-drawn works at Scarborough have stretched businesses there to the limit, even forcing some to close down.

STIRLING councillors are at loggerheads over a plan to compensate struggling Scarborough businesses, with some fearing the plan could set a “dangerous precedent”.

In May, council resolved to investigate how the City could help businesses impacted by Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority’s (MRA) $100 million redevelopment works after the closure of local institution Boho Espresso.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council explored three options to help small businesses including waiving rates and alfresco dining fees and charges and a one-off ex-gratia payment capped at $200,000.

However, councillors could not come to an agreement and voted to hold the item over for further consideration.

Cr Terry Tyzack said providing compensation would set a “dangerous precedent” which would “come back to bite” the City.

“We will always be doing works; setting this precedent is irresponsible,” he said.

“This is basically a pre-commitment for us that for all works we set money aside for compensation.”

Coastal ward Cr Karen Caddy who originally put the idea forward to council said it would be the “right thing to do” for small businesses that were the “lifeblood” of the area.

“We’ve seen a number of businesses fail and the ones still there have their backs to the wall,” she said.

“This is a small amount of money for a council our size to show our support for these businesses.

“For those who are worried this will be setting a precedent – I don’t think this is a bad precedent to be setting.

“I’d be in support if this was in Mt Lawley or Carine or Balga.”

Cr Mark Irwin supported the motion and said he would not like to see “multi-nationals owning all of Scarborough.”

While he commended both Crs for their support of small business, Cr David Lagan said the area was no longer the City’s responsibility.

“This is not about being stingy this is about legalities,” he said.

“This is outside of the City’s control; in 2014 the City handed the control of this area over to the MRA.

“It is not our job – the MRA has a track record of doing this…they didn’t do enough, they chose not to.”

The item will be held over to a future committee meeting before it returns to council.

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