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Mall traders push for free parking deal

By Morgan Dyer

Traders in Maude St Mall are “furious” over Greater Shepparton City Council's decision to not include the West Walk car park in its free parking scheme.

West Walk on Fraser St was the only council car park excluded from its policy introduced early this month in an effort to get people back into the area to reboot the economy.

Core Strength Health and Wellness owner Tracey Visser said continuing to charge people when other council-owned car parks were free was just “money grabbing” .

“They aren’t helping the mall traders at all,” Ms Visser said.

“Let us have our free off-street parking to help the mall grow.”

But the council says the West Walk car park is classed as a street and, therefore, cannot be grouped with those that are free.

“In terms of the revised car parking arrangement, given Fraser St’s status as a road, it is considered as on-street parking and is, therefore, not included in the off-street, timed, free parking in council-owned car parks initiative,” a council spokesperson said.

“A Parking Reference Group, made up of both council and Shepparton Chamber of Commerce and Industry representatives, was formed to provide input into the finalisation of the timing and location of the car parks, eventuating in the provision and implementation of more than 300 free, timed, off-street car spaces.”

The car park was listed as an off-street car park on the council's website until Wednesday when council updated its website but didn't include West Walk.

Ms Visser said she wanted the car park included in the free timed off-street parking for the sake of customers.

“All we are asking is that we want the car park to be free timed parking,” Ms Visser said.

“If they want to earn some revenue, put the meters along the on-street areas of Wyndham St that don’t have a meter.

“People are confused and it's not helping traders.”

The council urged people to familiarise themselves with the new parking arrangements.

“Council’s website has now been updated accordingly, and we encourage people to ensure they familiarise themselves with the new arrangements,” a council spokesperson said.

Council's sustainable development director Geraldine Christou said the council would continue to work with business and industry to provide a mixture of initiatives to help support the CBD and businesses within the region.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting mandated restrictions have limited activation opportunities within the mall, however council is investigating opportunities that align with the government mandates and is regularly working with traders in relation to activations,” Ms Christou said.

“As part of the region’s economic recovery, council will work with stakeholders to provide a variety of innovative CBD activations, targeted marketing and visitor campaigns and continue to grow and develop the major events program to encourage visitation.

“Council has released its Economic Response to COVID-19 Stage 2 package, which includes a number of actions to support local business.”

The off-street car parks included in the free timed parking arrangement include Welsford St/Wyndham Mall, High/Rowe Sts, Stewart St, Fryers St, Fryers/Edward Sts, and Maude/Nixon/Edward Sts, opposite 90 Welsford St.

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