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Stand-off in city retail precint

RETAILERS and the City of Perth are involved in a dispute over who has responsibility for, and control of, marketing the city.

The retail group claims plans to create a management group to promote the CBD as a giant shopping centre have stalled because the City of Perth refuses to relinquish control of the city’s marketing.

The group want the area bounded by Milligan Street, Victoria Avenue, St Georges Terrace and Wellington Street designated as a retail precinct for marketing purposes.

All other capital cities have marketing projects in place to promote CBD retail.

Business News understands the management group is to be made up of key city stakeholders and representatives of the council.

However, retailers feel their ideas are not being taken into account because council is more interested in promoting cultural events than city shopping. They have asked the council to put $1.3 million towards the marketing program, with retailers to provide $700,000.

The $700,000 would be raised by a special area rate on retail properties within the precinct. Their other recommendations were that Forrest Place and the Hay and Murray street malls be upgraded as a high priority.

WA Retailers Association chief executive officer Martin Dempsey said retailers were crying out for some assistance.

“The council doesn’t seem to think retailers have a concern,” he said.

“But they had a bad Christmas last year because of the GST and, with all the negative sentiment coming from global events, they look like having a bad one this year too.

“Christmas is traditionally their busiest time.”

Property Council of Australia executive director Joe Lenzo said he understood Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass was one of the main opponents of the management group proposal.

“City retailers are struggling badly and all we’re saying to the council is that we want to have a marketing authority to market retail similar to the way the big suburban shopping centres do it. It will bring some consistency,” Mr Lenzo said.

“The trouble we’ve got is that council is not keen to relinquish marketing power.”

Retail Traders Association manager Brian Reynolds said he supported the management group concept.

“My understanding is the city is still looking at the proposal but the management group is the outcome that is required,” Mr Reynolds said.

Dr Nattrass said council was considering two different proposals to market the CBD, but he admitted having concerns about providing a third party with a significant amount of council money.

“One is by an autonomous group of city stakeholders and the other is to have a dedicated central city marketing officer that would closely liase with central city stakeholders,” he said.

“We would have to weigh up the wisdom of giving an autonomous group $1.3 million and introduce a special levy into the city. Introducing such levies are never popular.”

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