MELVILLE council’s flip-flopping on paid park in the Riseley Street shopping is starting to wear thin on traders.
Meters were installed at the beginning of July, along with the highly controversial Deep Water Point system, and were in operation for a week before a card was placed on them saying the implementation had been delayed.
A few weeks later, after the council’s humiliating backdown at Deep Water Point, the cards were removed; but they’re now back again on some machines which traders say is making life confusing for customers.
The council quotes an unattributed “local business owner” on its online Parking Issues webpage as saying paid parking was needed to discourage employees from hogging parking bays that could instead be taken up by customers.
But the Herald spoke to numerous business owners and employees who denied it was a problem, most saying it was common practise for staff to use the two small carparks on Wilcox and Wilson Streets.
Those car parks are now mostly empty, with several employees saying they simply couldn’t afford the additional $2000 expense every year.
The council has also produced a “Park Wisely at Riseley” flyer for affected businesses which recommends that staff ride or bus in to work, or use free car bays on the edge of Strickland Reserve.
Handily, it notes a one-kilometre walk would contribute 1300 steps towards the recommended daily exercise of 10,000.
But naturopath Paula Denis, who operates from Pharmacy 777 in the precinct, says the long walk through a poorly lit is dangerous, particularly for female employees.
Ms Denis says she fears either she or someone else “was going to be assaulted walking all the way to and from Strickland Reserve when it is either dawn or dusk – a lack of activity in the area increases the danger for employees, compared to where we used to park”.
Ms Denis started up a petition asking the council to rethink its plans; it’s prominent in most local businesses and has quickly gained hundreds of signatures.
She’s not completely averse to meters, but wants at least three hours free parking to allow genuine customers time to browse in the nearby businesses.
“[They] need to have a system that works in favour of our customers, businesses and staff, that discourages ‘park and riders’ but still encourages visitors to come,” Ms Denis said.
Other staff the Herald spoke to favoured business parking permits and designating their little parking lot staff-only.
John Saeedi’s Gelare has been a favourite of Riseley visitors for two decades, with patrons stopping in for ice cream and coffee after a haircut or dinner nearby.
Now he says people are worried about parking tickets and rush back to their cars instead of browsing nearby.
“My main concern is making it an unfair competition between us and Garden City just down the road – parking shouldn’t decide where you go. I’m really concerned the cost will drive people away” Mr Saeedi says.
A number of business owners questioned the consultation, including Ardross Tyre Service owner-operator Steve Marson who said the first he knew of the paid parking plan was seeing the signs being installed.
“They just came in and rocked our boat – everything was running smoothly before that,” Wendy Koh of The Learning Bee said.
“We lost our 15 minute bays out the front where parents drop their kids off; for convenience it was fantastic.”
by JUSTIN STAHL