I was recently directed to an article appearing in The Age about how the citizens of a Melbourne suburb literally dealt a blow to the Council’s attempts to manage parking in the district.
They resorted to bashing up the meters with hammers and other hooligan-istic practices. I have to say that this is nothing new as vandalism (including liquid cement poured into the slots) also took place when meters were first installed by Mosman Council at Balmoral Beach. What is surprising is the fact that as a result of this behaviour Maribyrnong Council has decided to place the parking meter project for Yarraville and Footscray CBDs on hold until, according to the reporter, “council has time to gather data about the effects of paid parking”.
Now this is very interesting for two reasons:
- What process did council follow in the lead up to the planning and implementation of the meters?
- Who bears the responsibility for the destruction of expensive equipment and the loss of resources that council could have deployed in other ways?
As to the first question, I am assuming that Council went through the expected analysis and consultation process during which residents and businesses would have had the opportunity to express their views. The fact that the machines were purchased and installed would seem to indicate that.
As to the second question, I put it to you that once you have made a decision to invest significant resources in implementing a paid parking policy, and as long as you have all your ducks in a row (and this includes the process of consultation) the LAST thing that should be done is to back down and put the bags over the meters!
Giving in to this kind of behaviour by a vocal minority would seem to be exactly what not to do given the negative impact on the rest of the community. It sends the wrong message, condoning violence and failing to support the decisions made by the majority of the constituents. We know what happens when we behave like those parents who spoil their children and give in to their ever increasing demands! What kind of negotiating position are you going to be in going forward?
I would like to refer the reader to a previous blog published by PTC where we explored the steps that councils should follow in the formulation of a parking strategy:
Let me just reiterate the implementation of paid parking is the last step in a long list of strategies available to deal with the perennial mismatch between demand and supply.
Let’s go back to Mosman Council and Balmoral Beach. Having borne stoically the attempts made on the newly installed parking meters and legally pursuing the perpetrators of the damage, the area is now still as vibrant as ever, the turnover of parking spaces allows more people to enjoy the facilities and the resulting revenues have contributed significantly to the improvements and maintenance of the area for the enjoyment of all.
Have a great Christmas holiday!