AS 30 employees of SPC showed their support for the fruit processing company and its future plans during a public hearing on the proposed discontinuation and sale of part of Andrew Fairley Avenue last week, the overall opinion of submissions was made clear, with just three of the 69 speakers in support of the closure.
The forum, which was held from 1pm to 8pm at Shepparton’s Eastbank Centre, allowed those in the community who had provided written submissions to present verbally to councillors of Greater Shepparton City Council, with a further meeting scheduled for 4pm on Friday, May 30 to adopt a report currently being compiled from the verbal submissions received.
A council spokesperson said that council had received over 1,300 written submissions by the May 22 deadline, with over 1,000 of those on pro forma letters.
SPC Employee, Lee Luvara said, “Everyone was given the opportunity to speak at the forum. I think that people who are against something will always be a majority and outweigh those who are for something. There are a lot of workers and growers who, I have no doubt, want SPC to continue on in the area.
“I hope Council will follow the set procedures that are in place to come to a decision for the community.
“SPC hasn’t forced their workers to support the closure. We’re not saying we don’t have an invested interest because I do have a family to support and it’s not really that we want to see the road go, but the need for a job and prosperity far outweighs the need for a road and better accessibility.
“I hope for a positive outcome so that we can get on to make SPC a great company again for the next 100 years,” Lee said.
Speaking at the public forum, Fords Bus Service Driver, Harry Glover expressed his safety and travel times concerns if the road were to close.
“We’re always using the road to access the community’s schools.
“There are approximately 8,000 vehicles using that road every day and those vehicles have all got to go onto other roads where there are bus interchanges.
“The traffic on Skene Street is already pretty horrific at school times and there are a lot of people who do stupid things when the traffic starts to become more like a carpark. The other thing is that students from Shepparton High School walk and ride home down Andrew Fairley Avenue and if the road is closed, where are they going to go to get home. They will have to go right around the block.
“If the bus company I work for got bigger and put on another 30 buses, they’d have to go and buy another property and do it that way, you (council) wouldn’t close off Wheeler Street for our bus company I’m sure because it’s just not practical.”
Councillors will vote on an outcome during a special council meeting to be held on June 10.