Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Plenty of emotion on display at Andrew Fairley Ave meeting

Opponents of the plan to close Andrew Fairley Ave were left overjoyed when City of Greater Shepparton councillors rejected the proposal.

JARROD WHITTAKER June 11, 2014 4:07am

Cr Les Oroszvary is congratulated after the meeting.

As City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Jenny Houlihan wrapped up her plea for Andrew Fairley Ave to be closed last night, a member of the audience interjected.

‘‘Stuff SPC,’’ he called.

Several moments later the vote was taken.

The councillors voted 4-2 to keep the road open.

Shepparton’s Eastbank Centre erupted into spontaneous applause.

People left their seats and hugged.

Keep Andrew Fairley Open group’s Carole Trotter cried as she spoke to a television journalist.

During the debate, councillors who opposed the closure were met with applause.

Those who supported it were met with the occassional jeer and interruption.

During his presentation, Cr Michael Polan paused while speaking about SPC Ardmona’s plan to put $1million towards roadworks to alleviate traffic issues.

‘‘You’re repeating Peter Kelly’s bulls***,’’ was the call from the gallery.

After the decision, some people streamed out, while others hung around.

The mood was triumphant.

After three months of meetings, rallies and protests, they had won.

Andrew Fairley Ave would stay open.

The mood was different for SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly.

In February, SPC Ardmona workers hugged and cheered as Mr Kelly announced with Victorian Premier Denis Napthine a rescue package had been agreed to.

That was now gone.

Immediately after the vote was settled, the company announced it was halting its $100million investment plan for its Shepparton plant.

For the opponents of the road closure, this was their night.

Their three-month struggle was over.

But for those who depend on SPC Ardmona to make a living, February’s victory is gone.

This morning they wake to a familiar feeling — uncertainty about their future and with their livelihood again in doubt.

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