Council admits St Arnaud parking blunder

OBJECTION: St Arnaud's Des Ang was one of the disgruntled community members who objected to the newly installed parking signs which have now been removed.
OBJECTION: St Arnaud's Des Ang was one of the disgruntled community members who objected to the newly installed parking signs which have now been removed.

Northern Grampians Shire Council was forced to apologise to the St Arnaud community after “erroneously” installing new signs which displayed changes to parking time limits on the town’s main street.

The signs erected on Napier Street last week warned drivers they no longer had 90 minutes to occupy a parking bay, but one hour instead.  

Council workers then removed the signs on Wednesday following backlash from the community. 

St Arnaud Family Dental owner Des Ang, who lodged an objection, said he was caught by surprise when he arrived to open his business on Monday morning and discovered the new signs. 

“On average my clients stay at my business for about one hour and 15 minutes – this is reasonable, everyone was happy with the parking time limits before,” he said. 

“It wouldn’t have just impacted my business negatively, but other shopkeepers as well.”

St Arnaud Silver n Gold Mine Jewelers owner Karen Russ said she was furious the community had not been consulted prior to the signs being erected.

“The main point of anger is that the time limits were changed, but the community and business owners were not consulted about the changes,” she said.

“There was no reason and no explanation, we just arrived and suddenly it had been changed. We just want there to be proper consultation with the community.”

Mr Russ said a one-hour parking limit would discourage people shopping on the town’s main street. 

“If people stopped for lunch they would then not feel encouraged to continue strolling along and shop because they would be in a rush and more inclined to drive away,” she said.  

“There could be an argument for shorter parking limits, but we don’t feel it is applicable to the whole main strip.” 

Ms Russ also said the St Arnaud community deserved an explanation and response from Northern Grampians Shire Council on the cost of installing and then removing the signs.

Council’s director of infrastructure and environment Chris Adams said the signs were erected erroneously as the result of miscommunication between council departments. 

“We accept that this was a mistake, and apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result," he said. 

"The signs were removed shortly after they were installed, and no infringement notices were issued during this period of time.

"Council is committed to conducting proper consultation with affected stakeholders before any major decisions such as this are undertaken, and we look forward to working closely with the St Arnaud community in relation any further changes to signage.”

Mr Adams said the works had not come at any additional cost to rate payers.

"The costs associated with these works are factored in as part of our operations budget, using signs and posts that are in use across the Northern Grampians Shire,” he said.

St Arnaud Post Office co-owner Helen Rigby called for a parking time limit minimum between three and four hours along Napier Street. 

“That should be enough time for locals and visitors to come to the main street, shop, catch up with friends and family for a coffee and then fulfill any appointments if need be,” she said. 

“We want to promote St Arnaud as much as possible and if you only have one hour parking along the main street this will discourage people from coming into the CBD.

“There are so many amazing shops here that require a decent amount of time to browse through, we have hairdressers, dentists, solicitors and cafe`s, such a wide variety so it is very easy for people to be held up for longer than one hour.”