A review of footpath trading practices in the City of Port Phillip has drawn criticism from a local gay business, saying it may put patrons at risk.
Greyhound Hotel manager Sally Dempster told Southern Star she has concerns that forcing patrons to form queues near busy Brighton Rd may attract unwanted attention.
“[Homophobia] still does happen. There are still some idiots out there,” she said.
The council is proposing changes to the current footpath guidelines which would force patrons to queue on the kerbside of the footpath rather than beside a venue to help with pedestrian flow.
Dempster said the hotel had a problem around 12 months ago when a party bus pulled up near the venue and occupants hurled verbal abuse at patrons.
“It wasn’t nice and a lot of the fellas who want to dress up, they’re the ones I worry about the most,” she said.
“We are doing a lot of drag — especially now we’ve got the drag kings on Fridays — and their entrance is on that side. I really wouldn’t want a situation.”
Dempster said, considering the hotel is not in a shopping zone, the council needs to be more flexible in its approach.
“We’re not in a shopping district, so really at night we don’t have people toing and froing. Maybe it does have merits in some other areas but it definitely doesn’t have merits where we are. They’re chucking us all in one basket and saying that’s the rule and that’s it.”
Dempster said she’s spoken to the council which has indicated if the footpath rule changes, it will apply to everyone.
The council told Southern Star it has been consulting with local traders over the last few months to give people a chance to have their say before the changes are finalised.
“Footpath trading is a significant part of our city’s livability and it is important that we find the right balance between supporting a lively and vibrant street atmosphere, providing commercial trading space on the footpath; while ensuring pedestrians of all abilities are able to move safely around the city’s streets,” Port Phillip Mayor Frank O’Connor said in a statement.
O’Connor said some traders may be granted an exception if the “priority objectives can be met and there are extenuating circumstances”.
“Following the adoption of the final guidelines, council will work with traders to help them prepare to adjust to any new arrangements and to create individual implementation timelines or plans.”
The council will meet on April 12 to adopt final guidelines with changes to apply from July 1.