Utter stupidity as Melbourne does the time warp on traffic

Council orders freight to be delivered on handcarts in a move slammed as taking people back to the 18th century

Utter stupidity as Melbourne does the time warp on traffic
"Utter stupidity" as Melbourne does the time warp on traffic
By Ruza Zivkusic | June 27, 2011

Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Phil Lovel has slammed Melbourne City Council’s decision to ban traffic travelling on Swanston Street in Melbourne, saying freight and businesses will suffer incredibly.

The closure means that retailers will not directly be able to receive their stock as delivery vans will be banned from entering the area, with the council suggesting handcarts or trams be used as an alternative mode of transport.

"To suggest that deliveries can be made by wheelie carts or trams is so ridiculous and stupid that it takes us back to the 18th century," Lovel says.

"When you look at the diversity of the freight task – high volume and low volume freight such as waste, food and temperature-controlled deliveries and dangerous goods deliveries, and to say that it can be wheeled in on a cart or on the back of a tram is just hysterical, it’s absolute utter stupidity.

"Once you start manually handling lots of different freight over long distances you get lots of injuries and this shows a complete misunderstanding of the freight industry. This is absolutely ridiculous and it will kill the city," he says.

Melbourne Business Council President Don Parsons says the council had also suggested for goods to be delivered after midnight but says it would impose extra costs on businesses.

"The effect will be change of habit; people who work during daylight hours will be asked to work in dark hours. All this will add to the cost which in the end will be passed to the consumer," Parsons says.

Swanston Street’s Arthur Daley’s Clearance House owner Peter Ferne receives weekly deliveries from 10 trucks and says his deliveries cannot be cut as he specialises in cheap, high-volume retail.

"Who’s going to pay the cost of me having to provide staff to do it after hours? I run a business and we pay high rent, the scenario goes on and on," he says.

"The council might think it’s a wonderful structure for their portfolio of what they’ve done in the city but what are they destroying in their way?

"It’s a surcharge on what I’m doing, and we sell cheap not dear, so it’s important we keep our prices down because that’s the way we operate."

Meanwhile, Lovel says a tunnel from the Eastern Freeway to the Tullamarine Freeway is needed to relieve congestion but he questions where the Victorian Government will find the money to fund the project.

The tunnel is currently being considered by the government as part of an infrastructure plan ordered by Treasurer Kim Wells.

"That’s so obvious that we need it’s just a matter of when do we start it," Lovel says.

"We need it for the future of Melbourne to keep Melbourne moving but my question is where will the money come from? The government has got so many infrastructure issues that they have to work out their priorities and east west travel is very important in Melbourne."

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