Peter Gutwein slams council's bus stop project

Premier Will Hodgman and Treasurer Peter Gutwein have both weighed in on the council's bus stop proposal.
Premier Will Hodgman and Treasurer Peter Gutwein have both weighed in on the council's bus stop proposal.

Tasmania’s Treasurer has defended St John Street business owners and called for the City of Launceston to reconsider its proposal to relocate the area’s bus stop.

In June about eight commercial property owners attended a council meeting and demanded to know what consultation had been completed in the council’s proposal to relocate the St John Street bus stop to outside their businesses.

On Saturday, Treasurer and Bass MHA Peter Gutwein became involved with the local government matter after hearing concerns from owners of “a number of businesses” affected by the council’s plan to move the bus stop 30 metres down St John Street.

“All of the business owners and staff that I spoke with are of the one mind – they don’t want this to occur and believe that it will be detrimental to their businesses,” he said. 

“I couldn’t agree more.”

Mr Gutwein offered his own suggestion.

“The City of Launceston should revisit this decision and consider other locations like further up St John Street nearer to Civic Square and the government offices,” he said.

“Retail traders would not be impacted, its closer to the library and the revamped public spaces being developed in Civic Square whilst still being central to the mall, post office and retail outlets.

“It’s looks like a no-brainer to me and the sooner council revisits this the better.”

Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten responded to Mr Gutwein’s comments.

"The council has undertaken consultation with retailers in an effort to get the best possible solution for the location of CBD bus stops,” he said 

"This is an important element of the overall Launceston City Heart Project and we're eager to keep engaging with stakeholders to get the best outcomes.

"The council's current policy position, as discussed by Aldermen last week, is that the St John Street southern stops be located closer to York Street, but we are aware of concerns that this will simply shift the problem.”

The Treasurer’s comments mark the second time the state government has become involved in the council’s St John Street bus stop proposal.

In July Premier Will Hodgman was questioned on the radio about the issue, and the cooperation of bus company, Metro Tasmania. 

Mr Hodgman said he “certainly will” look at the matter, before diverting to his colleague responsible for the government-owned bus company, Rene Hidding. 

“You would hope a common sense test can be applied and common sense prevail,” he added.

Work on St John Street will coincide with the Brisbane St Mall development, scheduled for the first half of 2018.