Originally written by STEVE ROBERTSON
A DISPUTE between the Glenelg Shire Council and a Portland resident, upset about getting a parking ticket for obstructing a footpath, is set to be resolved in Portland Magistrates’ Court.
Long-time Bennett St resident Bob McPherson was issued with a $72 parking citation in January for parking off the street in front of his home. On the citation, the offense was described as “Stopped on a Footpath,” but Mr McPherson insisted the car was not on the concrete strip upon which people walk. The shire’s view is that his vehicle was blocking the footpath, and they issued the citation after residents complained.
“There were other cars in my street parked exactly the same way as I was that day, yet none of them got a ticket,” Mr McPherson said. “We’ve all been parking this way for years. Otherwise no wide vehicle could ever get between two parked cars in this narrow street. Across the road, my neighbour has trouble backing out of her driveway if there are cars parked in the road. It’s also a safety issue. What would happen if a fire truck tried to come up here in the evening, when lots of cars are parked outside? It would never fit. Already, delivery and rubbish removal trucks are having a tough time of it here; our neighbours, with their caravans and boats, struggle too.”
Mr McPherson appealed the fine to the shire’s Infringement Review Panel but the plea was rejected. He insisted he will not pay it and has chosen to take the matter to court. At best, he said, the rules are ambiguous.
“I was told by council staff that it was okay to park with two wheels on the verge, as long as it wasn’t obstructing the footpath. Also, there’s no sign prohibiting it. I’ve spoken with (councillors) Gilbert Wilson and Geoff White and they’re sympathetic, but still nothing has been done.”
The practice of partially parking on the nature strip appears to be commonplace in South Portland. During a short drive at midday, six vehicles were seen to be parked in that manner, two on the neighbourhood’s wider streets. None were parked across a footpath.
A spokesperson for Glenelg Shire Council said the council acted after receiving several complaints about a vehicle obstructing the footpath.
“The infringement was issued to the owner of the illegally parked vehicle for stopping on the footpath. It was not issued for being on the nature strip. At the request of the infringing vehicle owner, the matter will be referred to the Magistrates’ Court.
“It is the responsibility of all vehicle drivers to allow three metres of clear carriageway to allow for emergency vehicles.”