Traders up in arms over parking plans

PROMINENT Beaufort Street traders are fuming, claiming they’ve been left out of the latest consultation over a plan that could remove parking bays around Mount Lawley.

Stirling council is planning a piazza for the carpark at 679 Beaufort Street which will see more bays lost, and this week’s committee meeting also discussed a new “Parking Management Plan” for Mt Lawley which the traders say paints an overly-rosy picture of the current parking situation.

Members from the Mount Lawley Business Group have previously chatted with the council over the piazza and concerns any further loss of bays will kill businesses.

But at least a dozen MLBG members were left out of the latest round of formal interviews about the parking plan. 

This week’s committee agenda noted that of the 49 traders who were surveyed, “63 per cent had no concerns about parking”, leaving councillors having to scroll to other parts of the agenda to discover there was slightly wider discontent.

“The consultation was absurd,” MLBG chair Ian Cornell says. 

“The Mt Lawley Bowling Club were consulted – some distance from the town centre – yet at least 11 and probably more significant town centre businesses were not.

Astor

“Tellingly, this includes the iconic Astor Theatre; it is simply unacceptable.”

Others who weren’t consulted included Matusik Jewellers, Irving and Keenan, Michael Johnson & Co Real Estate, Mount Lawley Hardware, and more were still coming to light.

Mr Cornell said: “We call on the city to defer the consideration of these items… business in Mt Lawley is sick of being ignored by the City of Stirling, and frankly this is the last straw”.

But the committee meeting went ahead on Tuesday July 21 with a majority of councillors recommending approval of the piazza and the parking plan, only Cr Liz Re opposing both items. The recommendation now goes to full council for a formal vote on July 28. 

Stirling’s community development director Michael Quirk says there have been talks with the group’s members, and the 49 interviews for the parking management plan were carried out by a consultant.

“The surveying of local businesses was done in person with the business representative available at the time,” Mr Quirk says. “They were asked about any general concerns regarding parking availability in the area, views on parking time restrictions, their number of staff members and where they usually park.  

“The MLBG was not surveyed in the same manner. City officers met with the group in October 2019, where a range of concerns were raised, including parking. 

In direct response, the city began preparing a Parking Management Plan. The business group was provided with the Parking Management Plan scope in October 2019 and they gave feedback in November 2019. The City received more feedback from the group in December 2019 and City officers, along with the appointed parking consultant, then met directly with the group again in December 2019. City officers and the parking consultant then met again with the business group in July 2020 to inform them of the Parking Management Plan outcomes.”

Despite that recent meeting, MLBG members tell us they were blindsided by the items even appearing in front of the committee this week, and wouldn’t have known about it save for a member who happened to spot them.

Along with concerns over the consultation, the MLBG reckons the council has miscounted the number of carbays in the area. They brought in their own expert for a recount, and Mr Cornell says the city’s survey had “an over-count on public bays of some 27,” and an undercount of private bays by 69.

Mr Quirk says the city hasn’t been provided any information substantiating that its count was incorrect. 

Seventeen bays were sold off by Stirling when it sold a nearby strip of land on Walcott Street, and seven will go if the car park at 679 Beaufort Street is turned into a piazza.

By DAVID BELL

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