Councils stand by clearway position

Councils are refusing to bow to pressure from the trucking lobby to extend clearway times in Melbourne

Councils stand by clearway position
Councils stand by clearway position
By Samantha Freestone

Councils are refusing to bow to pressure from the trucking lobby to extend clearway times in Melbourne, claiming they will adversely impact on retailers.

Although the Brumby Government’s new transport plan advocating standardised clearway times, Yarra, Moreland, Stonington and Boroondara councils have officially refused to support the proposal.

Despite the expected benefits this will have on reducing congestion, the councils fear retail stores may lose business.

Under the State Government’s Keeping Melbourne Moving plan, clearway times will extend from 6.30am to 10am and 3pm to 7pm.

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has accused the four councils of holding commuters and the road freight industry "at ransom" because their positions will drive-up congestion and increase running costs.

VTA Chief Executive Phil Lovel says retail businesses affected will simply need to adjust and deal with any changes.

Maribyrnong City Council, which covers the all important suburbs including and surrounding Footscray, is mostly supportive of the measure with Mayor Michelle MacDonald hopeful the clearways will result in less confusion.

"The extended clearway times on key public transport routes announced by the State Government in April will have a relatively minimal impact on the City of Maribyrnong community," MacDonald says.

Furthermore, the Municipal Association of Victoria, which represents councillors, claims there is no specific data to support the assertion.

Chief Executive of the association Dick Gross claims the decision of the four councils is "voodoo economics".

The association is holding its annual meeting this Friday with a spokesperson revealing "our members are divided" regarding clearways and the Brumby Government’s transport plan.

The meeting will cover both issues, with Hindmarsh Shire Council particularly opposed to the plan.

It has submitted a motion for the Municipal Association of Victoria to develop a transport policy position.

The submission includes calls for a modal shift from road to rail and integrated transport planning for long-term land use at a local, state and national level.

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