Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

People voice concern at SPC road closure plan

Shepparton residents have marched in protest at SPC Ardmona's proposal to close Andrew Fairley Ave.

JARROD WHITTAKER April 14, 2014 3:57am

Campbell Ritchie, 8, Jye Lewis, 13, and Tom Jackson, 12, take part in the rally at Andrew Fairley Ave on Saturday.

Shepparton residents have taken to the streets to voice their opposition to the proposed closure of busy thoroughfare Andrew Fairley Ave at a protest rally on Saturday.

More than 150 people joined the protest on Saturday morning, bearing placards and chanting ‘‘don’t close the road’’.

The protesters marched several times up and down the length of the road, while policed managed traffic.

Among the marchers were Vicki and Neil Stephens, who have owned Signs and Lines on Old Dookie Rd for 30 years.

They said they were concerned about the impact the road closure would have on their business.

‘‘Seven-thousand cars come through here a day,’’ Mrs Stephens said.

‘‘A lot of them go past our workshop and we pick up customers off that traffic that goes through.

‘‘I don’t know how many we’ll lose if the road closes.’’

The protest follows two community meetings held in Shepparton, which both attracted more than 150 people.

Jim Murphy spoke of his opposition to the proposed closure at both meetings and was part of Saturday’s march.

He said he was concerned about access by emergency vehicles to the area.

‘‘It’s not just about commercial interests — there’s a lot of people who live here 24-7,’’ Mr Murphy said.

‘‘People down here need this road open because in the intervening 20 years since this happened before we’ve closed off all the avenues that could be aligned into north-south streets.

‘‘There are none left — that’s why this is so important’’.

March organiser Carole Trotter said she was pleased with the turnout.

‘‘There’s been a whole turnout of different ages from the children that go to the schools in this area that are going to be affected by this closure to some of the older people,’’ Mrs Trotter said.

‘‘This issue is going to affect all of Shepparton.’’

The march was timed to coincide with a public information session held by SPC Ardmona at its Shepparton plant.

Councillors voted to put the proposal to close the road and sell the land to SPC Ardmona out for public consultation at their March 18 meeting.

If successful, SPC Ardmona plans to use the land as part of its $100million revamp of its Shepparton plant.

SPC Ardmona received $22million from the Victorian Government earlier this year following a community campaign to help save the company.

Submissions close on April 21.

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