Council rejects appeal to modify No Left Turn at Cronulla

Disappointed: Annaleigh Grace (left) and Samantha Shepherd, of Loaf Sandwiches, manage a smile despite their compromise proposal being rejected.
Disappointed: Annaleigh Grace (left) and Samantha Shepherd, of Loaf Sandwiches, manage a smile despite their compromise proposal being rejected.

A business owner’s proposed compromise on the controversial No Left Turn at Cronulla was rejected by Sutherland Shire Council.

Annaleigh Grace, of Loaf Sandwiches, which is next to Gloria Jeans in Cronulla Street, was invited to address the council meeting on Monday night when a preliminary report by council staff on the six months’ trial was discussed.

Ms Grace proposed the traffic restriction be limited to 3pm to 7pm on weekdays and 9am to 3pm on weekends.

She said their steady increase in trade had almost stopped after the change.

However, the council’s traffic director said if the bollards were removed to allow the restriction to apply only at certain times, motorists would simply ignore the signs.

Councillor Marie Simone said the council should be able to address this problem, and moved the compromise be accepted.

Her motion was supported by only one other councillor.

The staff report said it was too early to assess the impact and, “whilst the concerns of those businesses identifying the impacts are acknowledged, the current real or perceived loss of trade may be the result of a number of contributing factors, including winter weather and therefore cannot necessarily be solely attributed to the traffic changes”.

Cr Simone appealed to other councillors to understand the situation faced by business owners.

“We can’t just sit here and say we are not going to help you,” she said.

“When you have staff to pay, stocky to buy and bills to pay, it’s a damn headache and sometimes you don’t sleep at nigt”.

Councillor Michael Forshaw said, “The competition among cafes is fierce and the drop in business could be due to any number of things”.

Mayor Carmelo Pesce, who owns Bianchini’s Espresso opposite Cronulla Park, said August was the worst month for trading he had experienced in four years.

He said, while it had been a warm winter overall, Autumn had been the coldest month.

Cr Pesce said businesses which had signed a petition, seeking the restriction removed, included Fusion nightclub, which did not open until 9pm.

Both Cr Pesce and Cr Carol Provan said they had received many emails from residents praising the move because it had freed up through traffic and was better for pedestrians. 

Cr Carol Provan said the Cronulla Chamber of Commerce supported the decision to continue the trial on condition better signage was put in place.

Addressing the Loaf Sandwich owners in the public gallery, Cr Provan said, “You have a great business, you are going from strength to strength”.

“The weather has been cold, but soon it will be hot,” she said.

“We are sorry we are putting you through this, but we are doing it to free up the traffic.”