No such thing as ‘free’ parking

September 14, 2017

With an annual projected loss of $1.3 million if parking fees were abolished - is 'free' parking really free?

A bit more about the absurdity of so-called ‘free’ Shepparton central business district parking (now called ‘‘free-timed’’ parking by some vocal proponents — itself a striking oxymoron as the regulation of time-limits doesn’t come ‘free’).

The annual projected loss to council in parking net revenue, if parking fees were abolished, is $1.3million as I understand it.

What does that comparatively equate to if you divide it by the number of parking-meter days in a year?

Say 260 weekdays minus 10 public holidays — 250.

$1.3million divided by 250 equals $5200 per parking-day — money that should be expended on CBD parking, off-street parking and general CBD enhancement.

How is council going to fund parking land acquisition and development?

Isn’t it fair that CBD parking income is spent on new parking (last purchase of any import being the Rowe St extension 15 years ago)?

Why don’t advocates for ‘free’ parking (whatever that may be) think more strategically — instead of short-term populist branding progressively branding status quo proponents as negative?

It will be interesting to hear ‘free’ parking councillor campaigners justify the equivalent forfeit of $5200 per meter-day when the issue is debated at the October Ordinary Meeting at Welsford St.

●There’s certainly change in the seasonal air but is there to be mayoral change down at Greater Shepparton’s municipal Welsford St bunker?

We’ll know for sure in about six or eight weeks but the rumour mill suggests there will be a likely changing of the guard.

Not that incumbent mayor, Dinny Adem, hasn’t done a good job — particularly his front-of-house meet-and-greet performance which has been superlative.

For the first time in Greater Shepparton’s two-decade existence we could see a leadership team approach and that could mean a female mayor and a female deputy at the helm if all indications fall into place.

My guess is that the coffee houses will be doing good business as the lobbying continues, with aspirants seeking to shore up the magical majority support of five supporters.

Now on a year-old matter: how is the now full complement of nine councillors panning out at City Hall?

No chance of me giving you an objective assessment because I was reasonably contented with the former seven around the boardroom table but really advocated for a total of five only — certainly not an increase to nine.

Trying to be as unbiased as possible I would have to say that nine is too many with much of the so-called ‘‘debate’’ fairly sterile and mundane.

This is not helped by the local meeting law encouraging all and sundry to chip in, seemingly endeavouring to get their name in the paper — not their fault, more the defect deviation from the Westminster rules of debate.

Never mind, we’ll get through, and in the future try to unravel the individual performances of the new incumbents.

●Good news last week that Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne has formally approved appropriate amendments to Greater Shepparton’s Planning Scheme, which will effectively fast track much of the paper-work needed to facilitate first the SAM site clearance and, then following, the important and necessary lakeside soil testing.

It seems that demolition of the servo and that soil testing could hopefully be completed by Christmas.

It’s a long haul but it’s encouraging to sense a growing acceptance of the project — not by any means totally but slowly showing a definite leaning to reluctant acquiesce to at least the inevitability of a new SAM.

There are a few active dissenters still and it’s said that two opponents recently communicated, pre-planning scheme amendments, with Minister Wynne, airing that opposition — strangely, by coincidence of course, both founders of the Grumpy Old Men (aka the Better Local Government Association). They never give up, do they?

Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.

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