The leader of the Victorian Opposition, Ted Bailieu has expressed his lack of confidence with the way the government has handled the implementation of the clearways extension while underscoring the policy’s impact on inner city shopping strips. “I certainly believe, as do traders affected by clearways, that it will have a big impact on their trade,” the Leader of the Victorian Opposition said to Neos Kosmos English Edition (NKEE).

“Traders have only received a token response from the Brumby Government, and the Minister for Roads should release the economic impact statement and the studies they have claimed they have done,” Mr Bailieu added.

His comments followed a defiant stance adopted by the City of Stonnington regarding the clearways earlier this month.
City of Stonnington Mayor Cr Tim Smith rejected a Ministerial determination released on New Year’s Eve that validates VicRoads policy decision to extend clearway hours.

“The timing of this decision should ring alarm bells. If the Minister is so confident this is the right decision why would he try to bury it by releasing it at five minutes to midnight on New Years Eve?,” Cr Smith said.
In his determination the Minister for Roads Tim Pallas said he believed all economic, social and environmental impacts had been considered in making the decision. “The Minister’s determination simply s

tates that these factors have been considered, it provides no evidence of such,” the Mayor of Stonnington underscored.
The City of Stonnington has done its own independent studies by economic experts who have found that if clearway hours are extended, High Street traders alone stand to lose $6 million a year, according to conservative estimates.

At the same time graphs from Yarra Trams have showed public transport travel time savings of as little as three minutes over 6km, pointed out the Mayor of Stonnington.

Cr Smith indicated that the Council would seek legal advice on the Minister’s decision. “But our position is clear – we will continue the fight, we will not abandon our traders as the State Government has done,” he said.

The chairman of Streets Ahead Inc. which represents among other Chapel St traders, James Pothitos called for the government not to ignore the traders. “Every [government] decision has its consequences,” Mr Pothitos said.

“If one business shuts down that is considered a loss what if 10 or 100 businesses shut down what’s going to happen then,” Mr Pothitos added rhetorically.
Responding to the criticism raised by the Mayor of Stonnington a spokesperson for the Minister of Roads and Ports Tim Pallas said that the government is “taking action to ensure Melburnians can spend more time with their families and less time in traffic.”

“We have made some amendments to the clearways times following feedback from the Stonnington City Council and we now hope to start installing the new signs before the end of this month,” the Minister spokesperson added.
Although not directly refuting the findings of the independent economic impact study of the Stonnington Council, the Victorian government is stressing that the economic impact of road congestion costs the Victorian businesses and families up to $2.6 billion per year according to the Victorian Competition & Efficiency Commission.