Ding dong the Gatwick is dead

LOCALS BLAME THE ICE EPIDEMIC FOR THE CLOSURE OF GATWICK HOTEL 
Greta Waters

The infamous Gatwick Hotel is set to close its doors for the last time this weekend.

Entrance
The infamous Gatwick Hotel is shutting its doors for the last time this weekend (Photo: Greta Waters)  

Fitzroy Street is one of Melbourne’s prime locations; efficient transport into the CBD, wide footpaths for outdoor dining and seafront views. So why is the retail hotspot struggling to keep the doors open?


Clusters of vacant shops opposite the Gatwick Hotel (Photo: Greta Waters) 

Fitzroy Street local and 62-year restaurant owner of Leo’s Spaghetti Bar shows no sympathy for the soon-to-be displaced residents.

Leo said yesterday that the issue is much deeper than shutting down the hotel notorious for housing some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable.

“The Gatwick houses the disadvantaged, mentally ill and criminal offenders. We need to stop pretending that it [Gatwick Hotel] is helping them,” Leo said.

“I have watched decade after decade the behaviour of these people, it has always come in bearable waves. Everything changed four or five years ago with the increasing prevalence of ice on our streets.”

On Saturday night a glass door at the front of Leo’s Spaghetti Bar was aggressively damaged. The perpetrator was caught on CCTV and police later revealed high on ice.

Broken
Leo’s shopfront violently vandalised by a Gatwick regular high on ice (Photo: Greta Waters) 

“I don’t want him to get arrested. But I am not going to support a cause that tolerates continuous destructive behaviour,” Leo said.

MP Martin Foley argued the installation of CCTV cameras along Fitzroy Street would minimise crime.

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St Kilda local Ree Gleeson has been avoiding the Gatwick vicinity for over 20 years due to fear of antisocial behaviour.

“I would never walk on that side of the road if I am walking along Fitzroy Street,” Gleeson said.

“I hope when all the residents have been relocated somewhere else that shops can start thriving again.

“It is a dry zone of shops… no business can survive in that vicinity because everyone is too scared to be there.

“Everything gets vandalised and there is a huge amount of violence.”

A letter was sent to Gatwick tenants on 6 March 2017 explaining the process had begun with no new bookings accepted.

Residents only
A sign reads: RESIDENTS ONLY this is a Private Residence. No access to visitors unless accompanied by resident. Strictly NO VISITORS after 9pm. Gatwick Private Hotel is monitored by Security Video and accessible by St Kilda Police (Photo: Greta Waters)  

Housing Minister Martin Foley said some residents have been relocated.

St Kilda Community Housing chief executive John Enticott said four months was adequate for residents to find different housing.

A police officer with local knowledge said “with the closure of the Gatwick Hotel it will hopefully free up police resources.”

Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss said the council does not support the demolition of the hotel building.

Gatwick
The end of an era (Photo: Greta Waters) 

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Port Phillip Bay’s world is an Angasi oyster

Even beaches have to grow up sometimes.

Unsafe swimming conditions at Elwood beach in January forced The Nature Conservancy to initiate the Great Southern Seascape project.

In true Melbourne style, a confusing mixture of flash floods and heatwaves led to dangerous levels of excrement in 21 beaches across Port Phillip Bay.

Data supplied by Yarra and Bay/EPA Victoria.  

Dr Anthony Boxshall, the Environment Protection Authority Victoria manager of applied sciences, said beachgoers who consume the contaminated water were susceptible to gastroenteritis and other illnesses.

“We have indicators we look for which is an indicator of faecal contamination, which is a nice way of saying poo,” he told ABC News.

Rosita Wickes twenty-three year Elwood resident said, “Even after the poor water quality scare I had no interest in visiting the beach for the rest of summer just out of disgust, you would never see any sea life in the water. It wasn’t even really a beach”.

The project aims to rebuild shellfish reef ecology by reintroducing the Angasi native flat oyster. Research has proved the oyster’s domino effect; by feasting on phytoplankton, algae blooms are unable to flourish allowing nutrient packed clean water for marine and human life to enjoy.

Dr Chris Gillies, marine manager for The Nature Conservancy confirms “an individual oyster filters and cleans five litres of water an hour, or the equivalent of a full bath tub”.

The Victorian Recreational Fishing License Trust FundFisheries Victoria, The Thomas Foundation and the Albert Park Yachting and Angling Club have teamed up with The Nature Conservatory by providing valuable local insight into the multifunctional reefs that once inhabited Port Phillip Bay. The seabed was destroyed by recent dredging and consistent over harvesting.

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With some help from the Little Creatures brewery in Geelong, The Victorian Shellfish Hatchery in Queenscliff have been breeding Angasi oysters. Local fishing and diving partners are set to lay the matured oysters against limestone foundations at Margaret’s Reef towards the end of March 2017.

Elwood locals have been warned of potential issues that will rise from the project. Noise and air pollution emerging from the trucks and trailers delivering limestone in conjunction with the excavators and large wheel loaders being used. Limited access to the pier as limestone debris will be kept and stored sporadically.  For the safety of the public the pier will be blocked during the delivery and packing of limestone.

When asked to comment on any of the highlighted effects of the project, Ms Wickes noted “I haven’t noticed anything about the oysters yet”.

The Nature Conservatory did not comment when asked about current progress. In the meantime, The Nature Conservatory has set up a Reef Cam –  your window into Port Phillip Bay.

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Clear waters ahead Elwood Beach displays its improved water quality in April 2017. (Photo: Greta Waters)

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VIDEO: Shellfish Reef Restoration Project (Channel 9 News Report) 

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