Empty shops & high unemployment, will Saturday change that for Batemans Bay?

Elise Searson 17 May 2019 17

Sylvie Siteaud outside her business north of the Batemans Bay CBD. Photos: Elise Searson.

Imagine taking the left turn off the bridge onto Orient Street in Batemans Bay for the first time, to one side there’s one of the most spectacular views of the water in town while the other is lined with a haunting amount of vacant shops. I stopped counting after eight.

Across the river, just north of the town’s commercial heart, the plight of the Maloneys Beach Cafe & Cellar perhaps points to some of the issues at play locally. Owners Sylvie and Pascal Siteaud dreamt of selling the business they moved from France to start eight years ago.

“The lessors (landlords) were great at the beginning because we did all the painting and renovations, they haven’t spent any money on this property in eight years,” Mrs Siteaud says.

Mrs and Mr Siteaud had a couple of eager buyers sign contracts to buy their business, they were retracted after the landlords increased the rent.

The Maloneys Beach shop is closing in June.

“They made it impossible for us to sell, every potential buyer pulled out because they were too greedy with rent,”Mrs Siteaud says.

“We pay $4,400 per month. This is more rent than most shops in Stocklands Mall in town.”

Sylvie Siteaud.

The rent has increased 6 per cent every year which Mrs Siteaud says is much higher than the CPI of 1.5 per cent.

After the owners refused an evaluation, the Siteauds booked their own through their solicitor leading to a decrease in rent and an even more fractured relationship with their Sydney landlords.

Region Media did approach the Siteauds’ landlord for comment, keen to share their perspective. We have not received a response as of yet.

The future of the Maloney’s Beach shop is unknown, however, Sylvie and Pascal Siteaud are counting down the weeks to their June closure.

Pascal Siteaud.

“We will be very relieved and can’t wait for the closing party, I have a new job as a function and event manager for a motel in town. The future is looking bright for me,” Mrs Siteaud says.

The Siteauds speak with sadness about the vacant shops that line the Batemans Bay CBD.

“It’s like a ghost town,” Mr Siteaud says.

Maloneys Beach Cafe & Cellar.

Aside from the number of empty businesses, the other number that looms large over Batemans Bay is the unemployment rate – 14.8 per cent.

It doesn’t take much to connect the dots between the two.

One passer-by I spoke to asked where all the shops had gone? While another spoke of seeing the town gradually change over the last eight years.

Anne North and her family are feeling it too; the cost of living increasing beyond wages, her budget getting tighter and tighter, to the point of hardship.

Anne North of Batemans Bay is struggling to make ends meet.

“The empty shops are depressing, it doesn’t give people much hope for our economy,” Ms North says.

Her eyes well with tears as she speaks about who she is voting for, “I am voting Labor because we need them to fix this,” she says with huge hopes.

Vacant shops in Orient Street Batemans Bay.

“I was casual for three years down the road here, we worked 7-hour shifts with only one 15 minute break, we worked like slaves,” Ms North says.

“Our boss guilted us to work harder by saying she hocked her jewellery just to pay our wage.”

Ms North is 61 next week and on Newstart. “I don’t know where I’m going to get a job in this town at my age.”

She wants big companies to stop getting everything, “it’s absolute greed, greed, greed.”

Pre-poll voting on Orient Street Batemans Bay.

All the major parties talk of small business being the engine room of the Australian economy and point to different and competing ideas to support the sector and create jobs.

Let’s hope Saturday delivers the spark Batemans Bay needs to support people like Anne North, and Sylvie and Pascal Siteaud. In regional towns like mine, our futures are connected and dependent on each other, we succeed and fail together.

Original Article published by Elise Searson on About Regional.

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17 Responses to Empty shops & high unemployment, will Saturday change that for Batemans Bay?
Jamie Hamilton Jamie Hamilton 12:14 am 19 May 19

Maybe if the store owners catered to the Canberra influx as a component of their trading hours and economy there would not be so many vacant shops?

It drives me nuts that if I get down there after 8:00 at night, the only food available (as one example) is Maccas!!!

Maybe stay open later and get some trade going on would be one school of thought!

John Greenwood John Greenwood 12:00 am 19 May 19

NO but more unemployment & closures

Anne Gidley Anne Gidley 4:25 pm 18 May 19

Get rid of the bloody council, they have totally f... up bbay used to have heaps to do places to eat and no where to park mow itz a ghost town

    Robert Scott Pitt Robert Scott Pitt 11:23 am 01 Feb 20

    Completely agree. They increased the rates by 28%. That money had to come from some where and it was out of the local economy. The ESC have done a huge disservice to the people of Batemans Bay.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:21 pm 18 May 19

“Thank the Coalition Government for all the job cuts in Canberra and they just announced today there’s more to come!”

Actually, you can blame the permanent ACT Labor government for job losses in the private sector; as for the public sector we all know that sometimes the biggest sheltered workshop in the country needs to be thinned out as taxpayers are becoming thin on the ground.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:57 am 18 May 19

Australia is heading the same way.

Morag Oliver Morag Oliver 10:13 am 18 May 19

Ulladulla is heading the sane way.

Ruby Stead Ruby Stead 8:12 am 18 May 19

We were there on the weekend and I was shocked at the amount of shops for lease, right across from the water too, hope things pick up!

Tracy Hancock Tracy Hancock 9:33 pm 17 May 19

Kymatha Ashleigh 😱 we used to walk down here when you were little to buy snake lollies after being at the beach. 😢😢😢

Linda Matija Linda Matija 6:51 pm 17 May 19

Thank the Coalition Government for all the job cuts in Canberra and they just announced today there's more to come!

Gloria Keeley Gloria Keeley 2:49 pm 17 May 19

Just back from the Bay. I was shocked! Shops empty, it was depressing. The life has been sucked out of the Bay. Lived in the bay 15 years ago it was so much more vibrant. I agree the planning for the Bay has lacked imagination.

Gilavon Gilavon 1:41 pm 17 May 19

With Labor’s intended hits on small business you think things will improve?? You need to get your water supply tested.

Ruby Stead Ruby Stead 11:14 am 17 May 19

We were there on the weekend and I was shocked at the amount of shops for lease, right across from the water too, hope things pick up!

Winsome Willow Winsome Willow 10:21 am 17 May 19

One of the biggest problems is town planning, the Stockland mall does not connect to other retail areas, very poor planning. If you developed some parks and ways to join some of the areas up you might improve everyone’s lot. As for the cafe well there are other cafes in outlying areas doing a boom business, look at their examples and learn what you can do to generate a place people want to go to. Free papers, good coffee, interesting outdoor areas. Maloney’s could improve in all these areas, well meaning and lovely people. They would feel disappointed

    Winsome Willow Winsome Willow 1:55 pm 17 May 19

    John Perkins fair enough I like the cafe but does it draw people out of area. I am sure they will be missed nothing against them more responding to their comments

Ursula Gamal Ursula Gamal 10:04 am 17 May 19

It is depressing. Batemans Bay needs a real economic injection to create jobs and revitalize the area. Hopefully having infrastructure development will bring relief.

Danes Kimber Danes Kimber 9:07 am 17 May 19

I'm heading down in two hours. Can't wait.

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