Council waits 10 months to see petitions

By Shepparton News

Two petitions with more than 2000 signatures combined, opposing Ford Rd and Wanganui Rd being used as a bypass truck arterial, have been presented to Greater Shepparton City Council 10 months after being received.

The first petition, which councillors received at a meeting on Tuesday night, is a petition with 1423 signatures opposing the use of Ford Rd as an east-west truck link between the Goulburn Valley Hwy and Grahamvale Rd.

The second is a petition containing 880 signatures requesting the reversal of the B-double classification of Ford Rd.

Councillors unanimously received both petitions, but there has been a delay in them reaching a council meeting.

Following the meeting, Ford Rd Action Group spokeswoman Susie Daniel said the signatures were collected in April last year, but the group had heard little since presenting them to the council.

‘‘In the October or November council meeting last year, I then lodged question as to why hadn’t we heard anything back; they hadn’t even acknowledged it,’’ she said.

‘‘We were wondering if the councillors had even seen them.’’

At Tuesday’s meeting, councillor Shelley Sutton thanked the petitioners, adding she imagined it would have taken significant time to collect this volume of signatures.

Speaking to the second petition, Cr Fern Summer said, ‘‘we have to acknowledge there is a lot of comment in the community about quite a few of our proposed works, it is getting quite a bit of attention.’’

‘‘Thanks for the input ... we will always consider petitions.

‘‘Whether it has the final bearing on our decision is another matter, but it’s great to see the community getting on board with these things.’’

Following the meeting, Mayor Kim O’Keeffe said council was always appreciative to get feedback, adding councillors would discuss the matters petitioned on.

‘‘We always have empathy and understanding from their perspective,’’ she said.

Ms Daniel noted the large amount of signatures presented and said there were far more signatures than people who lived on Ford Rd or nearby.

‘‘We sat out the front of (Fairley’s) IGA and collected them,’’ she said and added many of those who signed were parents who had children attending schools in north Shepparton.

Council public question time has in the past year been dominated by the issue of trucks along Ford Rd and Wanganui Rd, and the prospect of it becoming an east-west link in the long awaited Shepparton bypass.

Nine questions were lodged between July and December.

In October last year, Ms Daniel asked the council why no response had yet been received on two petitions presented, despite them having been sent to council in April.

Responding at the time, the council said the petitions were received during the public consultation phase associated with the draft Wanganui Rd and Ford Rd feasibility study design report and were treated as submissions and included with the folder of submissions sent to councillors.

‘‘The petitions will be received and noted at an upcoming ordinary council meeting,’’ a council response said.

‘‘Further consideration will be given to these petitions when the final report is presented to council.’’

The News asked council for reasons behind the petitions’ delay coming to council, but no response was received.