Warrnambool City Council officers ease off over nature-strip car parking

WARRNAMBOOL City Council local laws officers are using a softly-softly approach to change a long-held culture where motorists park on nature strips and parks.

During last week’s influx for the Fun4Kids Festival 200 notes were placed on vehicles along Timor Street between Banyan and Japan streets warning that further parking on the grassed verge would incur an $89 fine.

It obviously worked because only one penalty notice was issued and a visitor sent an email thanking the council department for issuing a warning rather than an immediate fine.

“A ticket would have soured our experience of Warrnambool,” the email said.

Dozens more vehicles overflowed on to the Cannon Hill lawns, which technically is also illegal.

But local laws manager Ian Fitzgibbon said no action was taken other than monitoring the situation.

“We are reviewing the whole issue of overflow parking for major events and will determine the best consistent approach for future instances,” he said.

“The parking on grass beside Pertobe Road that happens in summer is also technically illegal and has been discussed with stakeholders.

“Nature-strip parking is against the law across Victoria and for Warrnambool the issue will involve a cultural change.

“The law is designed for safety, as well as protecting the amenity.

“Drivers should be aware of  road rules.”

A specific overflow parking area at the showgrounds and shuttle bus transfer has been used for Fun4Kids in the past and is likely to be continued.

Mr Fitzgibbon said the council would be reluctant to implement a widespread crackdown on nature-strip parking in residential areas unless there were regular complaints.

Two zones which have been on the radar are Koroit Street between Banyan and Japan streets, plus the base hospital precinct where residents have been complaining about hospital staff and visitors hogging nature strips all day.

Koroit Street concerns were resolved earlier this year by lowering prices in all-day designated parking zones and more stringent enforcement patrols.

A comprehensive report on the hospital precinct is being compiled by council officers in consultation with local residents and hospital management. 

“It’s a cultural thing and we are working with the community to raise awareness,” he said.

“Some other cities have chosen to put a blanket ban on nature-strip parking.”

Meanwhile, there will be no relaxing of parking patrols on street meters and designated off-street areas during festivals.

“It’s business as usual,” Mr Fitzgibbon said. “We need to keep the vehicle turnover happening and treat everyone equally — locals and visitors alike.”

Cars parked on the Koroit Street nature strip. Photo: ROB GUNSTONE

Cars parked on the Koroit Street nature strip. Photo: ROB GUNSTONE

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