By Jade Lawton
CARDINIA Council has threatened court action against Pakenham sidewalk trading rebel, Terry Baldwin.
Mr Baldwin claims Cardinia Shire Council has ‘hung him out to dry’ with the recently introduced Footpath Trading Code.
The council has threatened legal action against Mr Baldwin for defying the code, which requires traders to move outside stock to create a 1.5 metre clearway from their shopfront.
The code was introduced to provide easy access for disabled people and mums with prams – but Mr Baldwin said it made little sense to apply the law to his shop, Pakenham Discounts, as it was already set back from other businesses along Main Street.
“No-one is happy about it. Everyone has said what is going on, and some wanted to sign a petition,” he said.
Mr Baldwin said ‘literally hundreds’ of customers had voiced their disgust at the code.
And moving the luggage, cards and other goods from the outside display to inside the shop had seen a drop in trade of about 10 per cent, he said.
“I’ve had customers in wheelchairs complain because they used to pick their cards from outside and I’d come out (to take the money).”
Now Mr Baldwin keeps limited stock several metres from his shop – but the wares, which are no longer under cover, become weather-damaged and sometimes blow into Main Street traffic.
U3A President Ron Topp, part of the positive ageing committee that devised the code, said he sympathised with Mr Baldwin but the issue was a ‘two-sided coin.’
“I know business is hard but at the end of the day we all have to obey the by-laws … it can become a bit of an obstacle course and it only takes the slightest thing sometimes to tip someone over,” he said.
“But the more we can encourage older people to shop in Pakenham, and accommodate them, is good for trade. I can understand the problem but if there is no access they will get their son or daughter to put their wheelchair in the car and go down to Narre Warren.”
Cardinia Shire Council spokesman Paul Dunlop said while an infringement notice was issued, it was withdrawn following Mr Baldwin’s subsequent compliance with the local law.
“Council’s local laws team has made several efforts to encourage and assist Mr Baldwin to enable him to continue to display his goods on the footpath and ensure his business complied with new regulations, which are designed to make shops more accessible to all residents,” he said.
By Jade Lawton