Sharing the Country Music Festival love | Editorial

The voices of local businesses have been heard by Tamworth councillors, who voted to keep the northern end of Peel Street closed during the Country Music Festival until the end of this council’s term in 2020.

Council papers said opening the street to traffic “would provide increased parking and enable the festival precinct to be further consolidated and enhanced”.

Mayor Col Murray was vocal in his opposition to keeping the street closed, saying businesses across the city were negatively impacted.

But it is difficult to see how opening the northern end of Peel Street to traffic, cutting off the stream of foot traffic the block’s businesses rely on, would do anything but negatively impact even more businesses.

Yes, the festival is an inconvenience to some residents – and some businesses – but if it’s going to be an inconvenience, let’s at least get some positives out of it.

And yes, council has invested a lot of money into Bicentennial Park and it is becoming the real focal point of the festival. But that doesn’t mean the festival’s footprint has to get smaller, let’s share the festival love around.

Ever since Brisbane St was opened to traffic two years ago, effectively cutting off the Brisbane to Bourke St block, there are notably less people wondering the northern end of Peel Street. But instead of putting it in the too hard basket, let’s have a red hot crack at drawing more people down to that end of the street. It’s no easy thing to do and it might take a couple of years, but isn’t it worth it in the end?

The strong man competition and the Aboriginal Cultural Showcase are good examples of feet movers on the northern end. Councillor Helen Tickle is right to raise concerns about what will happen to the northern end of street in a couple years time, when a few businesses change hands, as is the nature of small business.

The Tamworth Business Chamber will need to have a coordinated and strategic approach to its management, and be prepared for businesses to come and go – but that shouldn’t be a problem.

The chamber has been running like a well-oiled machine under the leadership of new president Jye Segboer and the board of directors. They’ve already made plans to get businesses together and start throwing around ideas about how to attract more foot traffic to that end of the street, discussing what has and hasn’t worked in the past.