By Luke Voogt
A council plan to take back Little Malop St’s troubled mall from brawlers and thugs is underway, despite public calls for its demolition.
Council ordered chief executive officer Martin Cutter to submit a report by the end August identifying initiatives it could implement by 15 December.
Brownbill ward councillor Eddy Kontelj moved the motion on Tuesday night saying council needed to act urgently on the trouble hotspot.
“This notice of motion is about taking ownership and improving the mall now, not in two or three years’ time,” he said.
“There are significant strategic discussions and planning happening as to what should be made of the mall in the future. That’s very positive, but we can’t wait for that long-term change to occur.”
The report would include “short and medium-term initiatives” to “activate Little Malop Central” with their costs and estimated timelines, Cr Kontelj said.
“It’s about installing continuous and consistent activation initiatives into the mall to make it a more engaging, appealing and safer place to spend time.
“We want it to be a place where people meet and socialise with friends and family, or enjoy visiting as individuals.”
But 58 per cent of respondents in an Indy poll voted to demolish the mall or replace it with car parks.
About 21 per cent voted for improvements while 18 per cent supported leaving the mall as it is, with the remainder voting for ’other’ measures.
A similar trend appeared among dozens of Indy readers commenting on social media, with almost half calling for the mall to be demolished, converted into car parks or opened to two-way traffic.
A permanent police presence and moving the bus interchange were the next most common responses.
Others suggested improvements like alfresco dining, nearby light rail or turning the mall into an “atrium“.
The recent council measures follow an A Current Affair segment this month labelling the mall “Australia’s worst” and featuring brawls and foul-mouthed threats.
Former Geelong mayor and CBD trader Hayden Spurling, who oversaw the mall’s opening, told the Indy last week it needed to be “reopened”.
“We need to get rid of the mall aspect of it,” he said.
“We can’t just continue throwing money at it without success.”
Bill Votsaris, who is planning an overhaul of the adjacent Bright & Hitchcock building, called for the removal of Moorabool St bus exchange instead.
Spreading the bus shelters would help make Moorabool St a “premier” shopping strip with flow on effects for the mall, he told the Indy last week.
Geelong deputy mayor Peter Murrihy supported the measure while also calling for an increased police presence.
Council allocated $250,000 in its 2019/2020 budget for a master plan to rejuvenate Little Malop St mall including community engagement over six to eight months.
City Hall had worked with police and traders to address safety and on funding CCTV feeding directly to Geelong Police Station, a spokesperson said.