Christmas spirit lights up Ramsgate shops

Christmas cheer: Jonah Geries from Cafe Figaro, Bayside Councillor Ed McDougall, Member for Rockdale Steve Kamper and George Mourlas from Chicken Ace. Picture: Chris Lane
Christmas cheer: Jonah Geries from Cafe Figaro, Bayside Councillor Ed McDougall, Member for Rockdale Steve Kamper and George Mourlas from Chicken Ace. Picture: Chris Lane

The festive season has come early to Ramsgate as part of a push to entice shoppers back to the embattled shopping precinct.

Business owners have reported losses of up to 50 per cent after the revitalisation project to update the shopping strip went nine months over deadline.

The construction delays, traffic changes, and lack of parking kept customers away and saw some businesses close.

To combat the loss of business a Christmas focus has been put on the shopping strip with decorations and a tree installed earlier this month.

Bayside Councillor Ed McDougall put forward a motion at the November council meeting that would see the beachside suburb have a special focus in the lead-up to Christmas.

That would include a series of festive activities and events as well as the installation of a Christmas tree that would encourage people to visit the shopping strip.

A proposal to waive the footpath trading fees for the 2018 calendar year was another idea put forward in the motion.

"The shop owners at Ramsgate beach have spent over a year now in a construction zone - we need to support them as they re-establish Ramsgate beach as a great local shopping center,’’ he said.

"We wanted to see Ramsgate beach receive special attention this Christmas to help bring patrons back to the centre over the crucial holiday trading period.’’

The motion was supported by several councillors including Cr James Macdonald and Cr Michael Nagi.

‘’I think it’s important that we assist these business owners and help revive that area,’’ Cr Macdonald said.

‘’I think it’s a great initiative and we need to help any way we can.’’

‘’That’s the least we can do after the disastrous construction there,’’ Cr Nagi said.

‘’The impact it had on the business owners- I think some of them went broke or suffered financially so in the spirit of Christmas I think it’s the best thing we can do is to give them a nice environment.’’

The motion was moved though the waiving of fees will have to be put out on formal consultation.

Festive: The Christmas tree installed at Ramsgate beach plaza. Picture: Chris Lane

Festive: The Christmas tree installed at Ramsgate beach plaza. Picture: Chris Lane

The motion had mixed reviews from business owners.

Sylvia Guirguis from The Centre Pharmacy said an earlier push by council in October had little effect.

In October, the council put on several events including a ice-skating rink and children’s activities to entice shoppers back.

‘’Everything they’ve done so far hasn’t really done anything,’’ she said.

‘’It’s all talk at the moment.

‘’Waiving the fees is something positive- it would be great for some of the cafes that are almost empty now.’’