Saturday, 11 October 2014

Stop calling me a "squealing pig" - community rallies against paid parking

There's a good thing that happens when governments and councils do things the communities they represent don't like - the community bonds and you meet your neighbours.

We don't need #nopaidparking.
© 2014 divacultura
This morning Melbourne's inner west villages of Yarraville and Seddon rallied and marched against plans by the Maribyrnong Council to introduce paid parking. On my way to the village, I joined with Caroline and her dog Kaiser and we chatted and walked together to the rally point. At the rally I spied Erin from my dance class and we walked together with Dave and Holden the dog (he has the world's softest ears). We talked about our community - the place where we live - and discovered we share many views.

Melbourne presented us with perfect rally weather - around 20 degrees Celsius, slightly cloudy with a light breeze - and I was told by one of the local councillors that 400 people had been counted in the march from Yarraville to Seddon.

The council claims that paid parking will increase turn over and therefore provide more parking. There are currently time restrictions on parking but I don't see them being well enforced.  I've seen no evidence that supports the idea that paid parking will improve turn over. It may free up parking as people choose to go down the road and shop at the Coles supermarket or Highpoint Shopping Centre where parking is free and plentiful.

Unhappy rate payers.
© 2014 divacultura
I've lived in Yarraville since 2007 and love the village feel. I often tell people that it's like living in a country town with all the convenience of being in a big city.  I generally walk to the village, but on occasion I'm in my car - usually when I'm on my way to or from somewhere else. I drove over on Thursday because I had a wine delivery to collect from the post office. I parked for 5 minutes and was gone. It would take me twice as long to find coins and walk to the machine, pay and put the ticket back in my car if I had to pay.

Retailers are naturally concerned that forcing people to pay to park will drive their customers away. A community-led study has been conducted and shows they have reason to be concerned.

It was great to see two of the local Councillors representing the Yarraville ward at the rally. Martin Zakharov and Michael Clarke were vocal in their concern, while clarifying that the law prevents them from stating which way they will vote when the proposal is brought to Council. Armed with the mobile numbers of all Councillors I contacted each of them by text message. Councillors Zakharov and Clarke received a thank you to acknowledge their presence. Each of the others received this message (including my full name):

"I'm disappointed that you're not here to talk to Yarraville and Seddon community about why you think paid parking in our villages is a good idea. Where are you?"

So far, one councillor, Sarah Carter has responded. She had just landed from an overseas flight. I will follow up with an email.

Hear! Hear!
© 2014 divacultura
There's one aspect of the community organising that I don't understand. Councillor Catherine Cummings has been quoted and reported to have commented about local residents "squealing like pigs". The parking study revealed a highly educated population, so why we would be asked to buy into this and squeal like pigs at the rally is beyond me. I'm not a squealing pig; I'm a concerned resident who is engaged with my community and has heard no good reasons for the introduction of paid parking. I'm worried about the damage this will do. This does not make me, or any of us, squealing pigs.

Walking back home after the march, I discovered a new shop and ran into Councillor Zakharov (you can see him on saxophone in the first photo above). We walked together for a while and talked about the events of the morning. It was great to have the opportunity to acknowledge him in person.

Council meets this Tuesday. We need to continue to be visible and vocal.


I received a response to my text message from Councillor Cummings after publication of this post. She tells me that she decided not speak so Councillors from the Yarraville ward could speak. She writes that she was there to listen and help her decision making process.

Don't know how she could vote "yes" then!


  1. Footscray has paid parking, Sunshine has paid parking. What's so different about Yarraville?...Oh yes, that's're "a highly educated population"..Cry me a river.

  2. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I'm not sure what the relevance of parking in Footscray and Sunshine has to the plans to introduce paid parking in Yarraville and Seddon?

  3. I cannot get my head around this "I'm hard done by so everyone else should also suffer" line of defence on this matter. It's not rational. The people of Sunshine and Footscray should perhaps be asking "Is this paid parking effecting the prosperity of our suburb? Is it effecting the nature of our community and its social fabric?" If so, then the logical next question should be "Why have we got this paid parking?" It's as though those communities have simply rolled over. Vibrant, healthy communities need engaged people. I live in Yarraville. I love living in Yarraville. I love the vibrance and involvement of the people who I share this community with. I love the fact that the community has come together on this one: because, simply, it DOES matter. I also care about the wider community and would vehemently support the removal of these things in ANY community of the inner west where it was found to be having a detrimental effect (as it clearly must, for members of those areas to be happy and supportive of the expansion of PP into neighbouring villages!). It's a sorry state of affairs when 'might v right' issues descend into the parochial lobbing of stones from one suburb to the next. How about we all just for a moment look at what the studies tell us, listen to what, intuitively, we already know, and stop this base nonsense about "We have parking meters, therefore so should they!" My intuition tells me that Sunshine probably shouldn't have them either! People: your council is ripping you off and it's killing your local shopping precincts! Let's get behind the Yarraville and Seddon case and set a great precedent! Let's gather our facts and hold our councillors to account for poor decisions of the past, too! If parking meters have been bad for business and the community in Sunshine, too, then let's lobby to have them removed! We're the ratepayers! The councillors work for US, remember. The argument 'for' parking meters in Yarraville & Seddon is, simply, an ironic underlining of the detrimental impact that they are having elsewhere. Let's stop this 'us and them' nonsense.

    1. Well put Caroline.
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.