SUPPORT ROLLING IN: Gracious Giving owner Debbie Wilmot said the support of the new SDRC council had been appreciated.
SUPPORT ROLLING IN: Gracious Giving owner Debbie Wilmot said the support of the new SDRC council had been appreciated.

COUNCIL REVIEW: Tough three months earns respect

WITH three months under their belt, the Southern Downs Regional Council has received a wave of positive reviews from small businesses on the Granite Belt.

It’s been a tumultuous time for businesses across all industries, suffering through the effects of drought, bushfires and coronavirus restrictions.

However Gracious Grace owner Debbie Wilmot said support from the council had been almost instant.

“I’m happy with the way things are going,” she said.

“Having their first budget with drought and the virus, I think the first few months they’re listening to people and helping with utilities.

“With what they can do, I’m happy with it so far.”

The High St gift store wasn’t required to close during the height of the virus restrictions, however a steep decline in foot traffic placed the business under pressure.

Ms Wilmot said the business had seen a rapid increase in visitor spending over the past three weeks.

“Visitor spending is up between 70 and 80 per cent,” she said.

“(Council) really need to work on that and support local business.

“Although, we had no rent relief, even though we asked for it. We still have 100 per cent of our expenses.

“We just keep going, just doing what we can do and hopefully people walk through the door.”

Carina Dittmann and Susan Anderson from Lily's Cafe celebrate the increase in trade.
Carina Dittmann and Susan Anderson from Lily's Cafe celebrate the increase in trade.

While business is picking up around town, Lilly’s Café owner Susan Anderson said initial support from the council was greatly appreciated.

“They were nice enough to waive the food licence fee for 12 months,” she said.

“The tourism side of it, they’re definitely getting the information out there for us through the food safety officer and tourism officer.

“It’s been very hard for us at the cafe only having a limited number of people in, and still having to pay bills, it was a nice surprise.”

Ms Anderson hopes the council remains committed to the community and increasing tourism across the region.

“A lot of small businesses, at this point in time, are happy with what’s happening,” she said.

“If there is support needed down the track, I hope they are there for us again.

“Anything that helps getting tourists into the town.”

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