By Casey Neill
Little India traders say parking meters are costing them customers.
But Greater Dandenong Council says the Foster Street paid parking is helping to meter demand.
Foster Street Traders Association president Shahid Syed said it came into effect about 18 months ago.
“The customers were very, very upset,” he said.
“They’re not accustomed to bringing money with them.
“We can’t give the change for all of them. We have limited change.”
The ticket machines also accept credit card payments, but Mr Syed said his customers didn’t trust them.
“If they come to my shop and there’s some mistake they can fight with me, but they can’t fight with the machine,” he said.
“We are losing customers.
“People will end up shopping somewhere else.”
He’s written to the council and local MPs asking for help to remove the meters.
“The Springvale people, they fought,” he said, referring to Springvale Asian Business Association’s (SABA) successful campaign to remove parking meters there.
“If they can do it there, why can’t they do it here?
“It’s only a small street here.
“This should be exempt.”
Mr Syed, who’s sold Indian clothing on Foster Street for 24 years, said the council had been very supportive of Little India.
The State Government is transforming the strip into Victoria’s first Indian cultural precinct.
“The only thing we are not happy with is the meters,” he said.
“This is hurting us.”
Fellow trader Harry Singh said he had more customers over the Christmas period and attributed to the boost to the council’s free parking offer.
“We’re happy with the time limit,” he said in reference to the two-hour cap.
“But people don’t like putting coins in.”
Greater Dandenong Council’s engineering services director, Julie Reid, said Little India precinct parking was well-utilised.
She said an occupancy survey from November last year identified the parking was between 75 and 85 per cent occupied between 10am and 2pm.
“Parking meters are installed to assist with parking demand,” Ms Reid said.
“Data has identified parking in the area can experience periods of high demand, making it difficult for customers or visitors to find a space.
“By encouraging users to park for shorter periods and adhere to the time restriction, this increases the turnover and improves the likelihood that spaces are available for customers.”
She said the council was reviewing parking management in the area to identify opportunities for additional on-street parking spaces.
New fees are being introduced at the Mason Street off-street car park to allow visitors to park for $1 per hour with a maximum stay of three hours.
“These changes are expected to improve the precinct’s vitality,” Ms Reid said.