For once it appears that common sense has prevailed! Councillors voted unanimously to reinstate the 2 hour parking restrictions on both sides of the streets surrounding the Caulfield Hospital and the townhall. That this could have dragged on for so many months is unacceptable. What is also unacceptable is the inconsistency with which council handles all the parking issues – ie Phillip Street for example where exactly the same thing happened over a year ago and nothing has changed. It should not take a concerted and consistent effort by residents to ensure that something is done to address problems. Nor should it take countless thousands of dollars to initiate a traffic survey that ends up reporting that there is no parking problem, or that cars are parking safely, when countless residents report the exact opposite.  This is bureaucracy and bloody mindedness gone mad.

Here is the discussion on the issue –

Silver moved motion to reinstate 2 hour parking on both sides of the street, plus continued monitoring and in future that before any changes to parking restrictions are made that the matter be referred to a full council meeting. Seconded by Sztrajt.

SILVER: thanked residents and apologised for ‘it taking so long as it has’ to restore the previous parking restrictions. Said these are narrow streets and when people park ‘close and opposite’ to driveways it makes it hard for people to ‘get out’ of their driveways. History involves hospital introducing parking costs and that council made a ‘decision internally’ to change the restrictions to all day parking on one side of the street. ‘That has caused problems’. Said he has visited and ‘saw the problems there’. Said it’s ‘not about parking availability’ but the ‘impact of parking’ and the problems caused. Residents have told council that they want their ‘legitimate concerns’ taken into account. It is ‘challenging’ because there are 2 major employers in the area – council and the hospital. ‘We can’t deny that there is a need for staff parking’ in both areas and in the ‘future’ there will be ‘challenges’ for both institutions. So this definitely will be an issue for ‘future consideration’. He hoped to hear that ‘residents’ lives have improved by next week’.

SZTRAJT: asked what the cost is for staff parking at the hospital. Delahunty responded that staff pay $2 per day and visitors $6. Sztrajt then queried whether staff could claim this as a tax deduction and Delahunty replied that it comes out of their ‘pre-tax salary’. Sztrajt then said that his question was to determine whether staff who can spend roughly $1.20- $1.30 a day refuse to park in the onsite car park and use the gate to get to the hospital to ‘save $1.30 a day’ so they park in ‘narrow residential streets’. This has ‘created an unfair circumstance’ for residents. The hospital had to ‘take the matter all the way to the CEO’ of Southern Health about whether to close a gate or not. Said that ‘with the best of intent’ by council, residents have been ‘upset’ and council’s attempts to find a solution by closing the gate ‘have just been delayed’ and residents have ‘been put out’ by the time lag. He now thinks that ‘we are not in a position to wait for the hospital’. ‘We are now in the situation where we will do what our residents asked us to do’. Residents ‘have spoken’ and ‘spoken loudly’. They’ve emailed all councillors, and he ‘commends’ them for taking up the issue and ‘using local government’ in the way it was intended – ie letting residents have ‘an avenue’ to ‘contest issues’. Council can change the restrictions and he is regretting that ‘it has taken us a long time’ to ‘do the right thing here’.

DELAHUNTY: said that council ‘shouldn’t have taken the decision to remove parking restrictions without consultation’. Even though it ‘wasn’t in contravention of our policy, it is not in keeping with the spirit of it’. Said the report stated that there is ‘sufficient on street parking’ and changing will force cars into nearby streets but ‘I don’t think you can have both of those positions’. If ‘reinstating the original conditions will reinstate the original complaints we had’ then council would get zero complaints. Didn’t think there would be any issues with reinstating ‘while officers continue to work on the closure’. Said that it is ‘mindboggling’ that this ‘very minor’ issue has to go all the way to the CEO of Southern Health.

SILVER: said that he is also amazed at the protocols and still feels the decision by the hospital could have been ‘made faster’. The hospital is a ‘neighbour’ and would want a ‘good working relationship’ with everyone.