Footscray parking meters will remain switched off indefinitely after a fierce public backlash to Maribyrnong council’s decision to reactivate the machines.
Star Weekly last week reported that paid parking was due to be reintroduced to central Footscray from June 24 after occupancy rates in the precinct were found to exceed 85 per cent, triggering the return of parking fees for the first time since 2015.
But the decision sparked anger among some Footscray traders and heavy criticism on social media, prompting a backdown that was announced at last Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Council chief executive Stephen Wall conceded at the meeting the volume of negative feedback showed that the council “could have done better”.
“Officers sincerely believed that the right stakeholders had been communicated with and the right messaging was out there,” he said. “Clearly we’ve got that wrong because we’re certainly hearing about that today.
“It is proposed to delay any further implementation of the paid parking in Footscray until further notice.
“We thought that the community was on the journey with us, clearly we have got some more work to do.”
The Footscray Traders Association supports parking fees returning, but the Footscray Asian Business Association has lodged a 200-signature petition against their return, arguing it had not been adequately consulted.
FABA president Wing La asked the council meeting why the meters would be activated in Footscray and not Yarraville.
Council planning director Nigel Higgins told Star Weekly that consultation was undertaken across Maribyrnong in 2017 to develop the Parking Management Policy.
He said the policy outlined why parking was considered “at capacity” when more than 85 per cent of spaces were occupied at times of peak demand.
“Residents and traders in Footscray CBD were informed of the coming introduction of parking meters and given the opportunity to comment in April this year as part of drop-in sessions,” he said.
Audits of parking rates in areas including Yarraville, West Footscray and Seddon could see meters introduced in those suburbs should capacity be shown to be over 85 per cent.