By Jackson Russell
Three Wallan businesses are frustrated with a lack of support from Mitchell Shire Council after requests to maintain their parking areas.
A gym, a mechanic and a garden supplies shop have all raised issues with council about the state of their parking areas on the side of the Northern Highway, just north of Wellington Square Shopping Centre.
Totally Fit Gym owner Kieran Atkin said the three businesses had all grown and the available parking doesn’t reflect that.
“We’re at just over 650 members now… We’ve got a joint car park with the mechanics next door, but between us there’s not enough spaces and it overflows onto a grass area next to us in front of a vacant block,” he said.
Council officers warned the businesses that vehicles parked outside of the current parking area would receive infringement notices.
“I think it’s a little over the top and another effort to raise some revenue for council and an opportunity to book people just going about their everyday stuff,” Mr Atkin said.
“The only option they gave us in terms of parking was to park across the road in the service lane but it’s not safe to be walking across the Northern Highway with the amount of traffic that goes past.”
Mr Atkin said the businesses were also frustrated because council refuses to upgrade the car park.
“The state of it is pretty ordinary and council said even though it’s council-owned property, it’s up to us to fund the refurbishment of the car park,” he said.
When the gym applied to become a 24-hour business, Mr Atkin said he suggested the service lane in front of Wellington Square be extended to cover the three neighbouring businesses.
While the suggestion was met positively, Mr Atkin said council asked the businesses to cover the cost of extending the service lane, which would likely have hit the seven-figure mark.
The Yard Garden Supplies owner Jarrod Garraway said the lack of parking had also affected the trucks coming in and out of his business.
“The road coming in is shocking. It’s potholed and dangerous, really. Everyone tries to take off in front of traffic and digs holes out of the front. No one will maintain it,” he said.
“I have to maintain it and do all the work out there. I’m using all my own crushed rock and machinery.
“Each time we do it, it’s probably $500 and probably more if we have to get machinery and crushed rock in.
“Once a month I go out there and give it a touch up, but if you had to pay someone to come in and do it, it gets expensive.”
Service Plus Tyre and Auto Centre owner Glen Avery is also concerned with the state of the car park.
“There are not enough car parks and it doesn’t allow customers to come into the shop,” he said.
“It’s a danger to everyone else trying to leave this car park with the gravel road and the way traffic is.”
Mitchell Shire Mayor Bill Chisholm said council received a complaint about vehicles being parked on a nature strip along the Northern Highway and council officers have discussed it with the affected businesses.
“The Northern Highway is an arterial road managed and maintained by Regional Roads Victoria. Where service lanes are constructed, these service lanes are managed and maintained by council,” he said.
“In this case, there is no constructed service lane. The roadside area in question has evolved into an informal parking area used by local businesses.
“Council offered guidance to the businesses about parking safely and encouraging their patrons to do so.”