THE lack of signage on the corner of Gipps St and Carp St in Bega is affecting businesses along Newtown Rd by reportedly causing tourists passing through Bega to become lost.
The previous sign on the corner of Gipps and Carps Sts pointed travellers south along the-then Princes Hwy on to Merimbula and Eden. However, it was removed when the new bypass opened and has not been replaced.
This has meant travellers entering Bega from the roundabout in the north do not know they can pass through Bega along Newtown Rd and in some cases are ending up in Tathra.
John and Loretta Carlon own the Bega Caravan Park on Newtown Rd and say they had a decrease in business since the opening of the bypass “almost immediately” as there is a lack of proper signage to direct traffic past their caravan park.
While they say the south entrance “couldn’t be better”, the north entrance has no proper directions of how to go through Bega to the south, so travellers cannot find the Bega Caravan Park and therefore take their business elsewhere.
“The problem would be easily solved by putting down an appropriate sign on the corner of Gipps and Carp Sts with international symbols on it,” said Ms Carlon.
International symbols are such pictures as a caravan for caravan parks and a bed for motels.
Mr Carlon had been in contact with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and the Bega Valley Shire Council and according to him the RMS had accepted responsibility to put the sign in.
“They have let us and the town down on the north entrance,” Mr Carlon said.
“You don’t know where to go anymore.”
John and Mary Ironfield run the Southtown Motor Inn on Newtown Rd.
Mr Ironfield estimated they lost 30 per cent of their business during the bypass construction as they didn’t have traffic coming past for more than seven weeks when Newtown Rd closed.
Tourists intending to stay at their inn often end up lost on Tathra Rd and have to ring them up to ask how to get to Southtown.
“They don’t drive past so they don’t see that we’re here,” said Mr Ironfield.
“We would have thought that the council would have had strategies in place to help businesses.
“[But] they don’t want to help anyone.
“The council is put there by the people, so they should try and help the people.
“But it doesn’t happen.
“We just really need a sign down there,” Mr Ironfield said.
Tony Griffin from the Princes Motel on Newtown Rd has not experienced the business downturn, which according to him has improved 10 per cent since the bypass opening, but agreed that there could be better signage.
“A sign pointing up Gipps St would be good,” Mr Griffin said.
The manager of Thornleigh on Newtown, Norm Pearce, thinks that there is poor signage in Bega in general.
“There’s a lack of direction in the town of where to go,” said Mr Pearce.
“To Eden, Melbourne, motels, service stations; there’s no directions in town.”
ACCORDING to the Bega Valley Shire Council, Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) is responsible for the removal of the old highway sign from the corner of Gipps St and Carp St, as well as replacing a new one.
“Council hasn’t accepted the ‘old highway’ as a council road yet and we will be requiring replacement signage as part of the handover negotiations,” Bega Valley Shire Council road asset manager Graeme Williams said.
“At this time the road is still under the control of the RMS.
“We understand the RMS took the signs down.”
A RMS spokesperson said new signs are on the way.
“Roads and Maritime Services will install a new ‘To Princes Highway’ sign on Gipps St approaching Carp St to help direct northbound motorists back to the highway.
“A white on blue services sign will also be installed outside the Bega District News building to direct motorists travelling from Carp St into Gipps St to motels and a caravan park within the township.
“Both signs are scheduled to be installed before Easter.”
However, there are no plans to install a sign directing southbound traffic out of town.
John and Loretta Carlon from the Bega Caravan Park welcomed the plans.
“If we get it before Easter, it will be great for us,” said Ms Carlon.
However, they remain concerned there are no plans to add a ‘To Princes Highway’ sign for travellers heading south.
“It still leaves people lost,” said Ms Carlon.
John Ironfield from Southtown Motor Inn welcomed the signage, but was still concerned about lack of consulation.
“There needs to be a bit more consultation,” he said.
“But there's definitely got to be a sign to let people know they can go south past us to Princes Hwy, or they’ve got it wrong.”