A petition calling for reduced parking fees and free parking in winter in Williamstown’s Nelson Place will be considered as part of the ‘Parking in Hobsons Bay’ review being undertaken by the council.

As reported by Star Weekly in October, lead petitioner Sash Boseovski said traders were suffering from the effect of $3.50 per hour parking fees operating from 9am-10pm.

Last week’s council meeting heard that although a three-month free parking trial was undertaken in 2015, there was never a commitment to make it permanent.

“We accept that things can be a bit tough, particularly in the winter months, and that’s why I moved back in 2015 in fact for us to have that [free] winter trial,” Cr Angela Altair told the meeting.

“As a result of that trial, we did quite a bit of research. We met with local traders and we developed a very extensive action plan, and a lot of that has been carried out in the meantime, including a number of free short-term parking spots and enhancing that precinct in many other ways.

“We never made any commitment to introduce free parking in winter on a regular basis and I think we need to make that clear to people who have signed the petition, but of course we are committed to working with those traders and to explore every opportunity to improve and enhance the business along Nelson Place.”

She noted that Hobsons Bay residents were eligible to apply for a permit that gave them free parking.

“We need to emphasise that because our past research shows that the main [customers] come from local people,” Cr Altair said.

The petition also requested that council allocate a marketing budget for Nelson Place from parking revenue and hire an independent consultant to analyse and compare Nelson Place meter fees with similar areas.

An officer’s report stated that the council allocated annual funding directly to trader associations with the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce and Altona Village Traders Association, as the two major trader groups in Hobsons Bay, each receiving $30,000 annually.