7 August, 2023
Call for heads to roll and meters to move
Horsham residents are venting their anger at Horsham Rural City Council through two petitions which call for immediate change at the top - as well as removal of all parking meters from the CBD. The first petition calls for the immediate sacking of...
Horsham residents are venting their anger at Horsham Rural City Council through two petitions which call for immediate change at the top - as well as removal of all parking meters from the CBD.
The first petition calls for the immediate sacking of Mayor Robyn Gulline and CEO Sunil Bhalla. Community members worked with Council Watch Victoria to initiate the online petitions.
Concerned Horsham resident Brian Basham said the mayor continued to preside over a dysfunctional council.
"We recognise this is an extraordinary step," he said, "But there is no other option."
Mr Basham said the mayor and CEO had led the organisation into "significant decline" when measured by an annual community satisfaction survey which sought the opinions of 400 random residents.
Mr Basham said the results were among the worst in the state and an historical low for the council.
"The 2023 results reveal the community no longer has confidence in HRCC leadership," he said, arguing "intervention" by the Horsham community was needed immediately.
"More than 50 per cent of people surveyed said the community did not support the direction of this council and its performance," he said.
Mr Basham said parking meters were another issue which had incensed the public.
Earlier this year 60 meters had replaced 361 older type meters, resulting in people walking greater distances and some avoiding using the meters at all.
Mr Basham said the meters were too high for some, not accessible to people in wheelchairs, confusing to many elderly, and a lack of understanding of instructions were among issues of concern. He said he knew of an instance where one user was unable to stop the app and disconnect the meter, resulting in a two-hour fine.
"There is definitely no net community benefit to keeping and using these parking meters," he said. "Please remove them."
Cr Gulline said the 1950s-built meters had become unreliable. New technology had been installed, but she admitted that feedback on the new meters was mixed and unsatisfied motorists had contacted the council.
Cr Gulline said 40 per cent of meter users had installed the Blinkay App, designed to eliminate the need to carry coins or a card, and which allowed remote operation by phone.
She said staff were always willing to explain the new meters and an instructional video was available on the council website, with paper copies available at the Visitor Information Centre and Civic Centre.
Cr Gulline said council staff issued 158 infringement notices in July to motorists who failed to pay.
“Unfortunately, many people are choosing to ignore the parking rules,” she said.