Free parking a ‘grenade’

November 23, 2017

A free parking trial remains on the City of Greater Shepparton Council agenda.

The free parking discussion was launched into this week’s Greater Shepparton City Council meeting like a ‘‘grenade’’, with councillors expressing frustration with the issue and the need for it to be settled.

A formal decision on a trial period going ahead was parked until next month, when more detail would be available on the merits and measurables of a trial.

Cr Shelley Sutton’s motion for a six-month trial of free timed parking to begin next month ultimately fell short at Tuesday night’s meeting.

But councillors commended the fierce free parking proponent’s resolve in finally bringing the issue to a head.

Instead, Cr Chris Hazelman moved an alternative motion seeking to consider a free parking trial, albeit with more detail, data and parameters attached, which was successful, ensuring the matter would again be reconsidered next month.

A busy month of information compiling and report writing is on.

Councillors each weighed in on Cr Sutton’s motion, but many considered there to be not enough information attached to the proposed ‘‘open-ended’’ trial.

Several councillors wanted more detail around how any trial period would be tested before it went ahead, to ensure its success could be gauged.

Cr Sutton described a decline in Shepparton CBD retail, citing competition from outlying shopping centres and nearby cities where parking was free, as factors.

‘‘A few years ago, we were envy of these cities,’’ she said.

‘‘Sadly this is no longer the case.’’

Cr Les Oroszvary said the trial had be tried given it had been discussed for so long.

‘‘If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, we tried something,’’ he said.

Cr Dennis Patterson spoke against the motion on the basis it lacked specifics, but sympathised with the frustration felt and agreed the discussion should be put to bed, for the council to make a definitive move.

He remained concerned about the value of trial results forthcoming from Cr Sutton’s motion, arguing on the need for foolproof figures.

Cr Bruce Giovanetti was concerned about a lack of ‘‘safeguards’’ around the motion and asked how any benefit to businesses would be assessed.

Cr Fern Summer likened the discussion to taking ‘‘one step forward, one step back’’, suggested Cr Sutton’s motion may be ‘‘counterproductive’’ and argued the focus should be on off-street parking, not on-street CBD parking.

Once Cr Sutton’s motion was defeated, Cr Hazelman moved that a similar trial be considered next month, albeit with two key reports and more detail in tow.

He said getting the right processes in place to evaluate such a trial was crucial, arguing Cr Sutton’s motion was vague and open to interpretation.

Cr Hazelman said his motion would set the council plenty of work to assess trial criteria before next month.

Cr Dinny Adem said the issue being brought forward meant the council would no longer be ‘‘dragging the chain’’, while Cr Oroszvary called for a decision to avoid discussions going nowhere.

Cr Patterson said Cr Sutton had thrown ‘‘a beautiful, big, fat hand grenade’’ into the mix with her motion in adding an answer was needed on how a trial would work by next month.

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