By Casey Neill
Springvale’s unpopular parking meters have officially got the boot.
But traders and shoppers are warned that time restrictions on CBD parking will remain in place and enforceable.
Councillor Sean O’Reilly tried unsuccessfully to move a compromise at the Tuesday 14 March City of Greater Dandenong council meeting.
“Rather than an unsophisticated junking of several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of parking meters, here’s a more sophisticated solution,” he said.
He suggested immediately dropping parking meter rates to 50 cents per hour and increasing trader engagement.
Cr O’Reilly said removing the meters would take Springvale to a dead end.
A council officers’ report to the 27 February meeting recommended keeping the meters and said they had improved parking and traffic since their introduction in November 2015.
But Cr Youhorn Chea instead successfully moved to unconditionally abolish the pay and display parking fee system following complaints from residents and businesses.
Cr O’Reilly filed a motion to rescind the decision, so councillors again debated the issue on 14 March.
But they stuck by the February result, seven votes to four, and Cr O’Reilly’s compromise didn’t get a look in.
A packed gallery applauded the councillors who spoke against the meters and booed those who supported their retention.
“I don’t want to go back to 2015, I don’t want to go back to the issues of parking turnover, of cars going around and around the activity centre of Springvale,” Cr Matthew Kirwan said.
He said the population had increased so the problem would now be worse.
“And they’ll continue to get worse,” he said.
After the meeting, Cr Kirwan said that emotion and vested interests won over logic and the broader public interest.
He said that adjusting parking meters to only operate during peak times would have made more sense.
“People will still get fined except now it will be for overstaying time limits and not able to be blamed on parking meters,” he said.
Cr Youhorn Chea, the meters’ biggest opponent, told the meeting that small businesses had suffered.
“You need to listen to the small business people and to the residents as well,” he said.
He said parking was free in neighbouring shopping precincts, like Glen Waverley and Clayton.
“People go shopping there instead,” he said.
Cr Roz Blades said: “Huge amounts of people worked long and hard to make Springvale what it is today.
“If people continue to stay away from Springvale, the customers will not return,” she said.
City planning, design and amenity director Jody Bosman said the ticket machines would need to be switched off, decommissioned and stored.
“It will take a few days,” he said.
“Time restrictions are still applicable and are still enforceable.”
Cr Chea’s motion to remove the meters also included a low-cost parking permit system in the Number Eight car park in Balmoral Avenue, a new access ramp to the car park and new way-finding signage.
Also adopted was a marketing plan on parking access and availability, a look at digital real-time information signage and online information, an accelerated roll-out of Safe-City CCTV, and ongoing reviews and reporting on parking management in consultation with traders and residents.
Opponents welcome Springvale parking meter decision.