BEAUFORT STREET will lose another retailer if the council won’t ease up on parking restrictions.
Andrew Barnett and Russell Butler have run Allure furniture and homewares for seven years.
They’re now planning to leave because of Vincent city council’s new-found love of parking fees.
For six of their seven years in the shop the pair has used an unofficial loading bay next to their rollerdoor to park their van, which they need a couple of times a day for furniture deliveries.
They’d had no trouble from the council until a year ago, when paid parking was introduced and someone complained to council, “that it was very tight to get past [the van] on the footpath”.
They’ve now been told the area has always been a no-stopping zone and they must park elsewhere.
Mr Barnett says the nearest all-day parking is a 10-minute walk away. With just one worker in the shop, that means every time he makes a delivery he has to close the shop for an additional half-hour.
“This hampers us running our business, it’s bureaucracy gone wrong,” he says.
They’re planning to leave the street, “because the council is completely unreasonable”. Their lease ends in 18 months but they’re hoping the landlord will release them sooner.
Council CEO John Giorgi isn’t budging. He says the zone isn’t a loading bay (the pair had stencilled “loading bay” on it themselves—illegal under the local law).
“Mr Barnett appears to believe that he can use this area as his personal parking space and this is not possible,” Mr Giorgi says.
When paid parking was instituted the council told Mr Barnett he could use the bay for short periods for loading but “in the same way as every other business in the area, he would need to find a legal parking space to leave his vehicle”.
“The ‘no stopping’ restriction is in place to ensure that the area is kept clear to allow Mr Barnett access for loading and unloading, so it is not appropriate to relax the restrictions.”
He says the council’s “concession” of allowing Mr Barnett to use the bay to load and unload is generous enough.
“Technically the rangers could issue an infringement notice to any vehicle that parks there, since it contravenes the legislation, but they acknowledge that Mr Barnett needs to operate his business so they allow him to load and unload.”
Mr Barnett says that doesn’t solve his parking problem.
At a recent Beaufort Street Network meeting on how to save the retail soul of the strip, three people mentioned council red tape as hampering business.
Former local MP John Hyde, also a former Vincent mayor, said concessions should be made to encourage retail.
by DAVID BELL