MORE than 50 people braved icy conditions to attend an ‘All Steamed Up About Ballarat Station’ rally at the Station’s north platform on Sunday to voice their concerns about the Andrews Government’s plans to give away half of the precinct for non-transport uses.
Organised by Save Our Station SOS Ballarat, and MC’d by newly appointed, velvet-and-hose clad Town Crier, Hedley Thomson, the rally heard how the recent announcements of additional funding by local members Sharon Knight, Geoff Howard and Jaala Pulford was a desperate bid to divert attention from the shortcomings of their plan. SOS spokesperson, John Barnes said, “An extra $5m for buses will not deliver the bus terminus Ballarat needs and deserves. The land set aside for this will not fit all the bus stops needed. They have no plans and no costings.’ “The extra level on the car park still doesn’t bring public car parking spaces to the number now available,” said Mr Barnes. “We need to plan for future growth.” SOS Ballarat has previously published alternative plans showing that the original $25m taxpayer investment would deliver a weather protected bus terminus in the refurbished heritage Goods Shed, total public parking for 520 cars, traffic management works in surrounding streets, and all-abilities and undercover access to all platforms. “With the additional money just announced, we could increase public car parking to around 1000 spaces,” said Mr Barnes. “It is high time the Andrews Government admitted that spending millions on the Goods Shed, then giving it to the private sector, along with freehold title to half the land in the precinct, is a bad idea. So too is failing to provide additional parking and disability access.” “Public land and public money should be spent for public benefit,’ he said. ‘Directing $32m toward public transport improvements at Ballarat Station would make a massive difference.” Social commentator Roland Rocchiccioli addressed the rally on how the public was being sold short by the government’s proposal to put serviced apartments on the site. “It is the wrong development on the wrong site,’ he said. ‘It bears no resemblance to a 4 star hotel whatsoever.”