Two parking inspectors were forced to flee the Shepparton Sports Precinct last month fearing for their safety, Greater Shepparton City Council has confirmed.
Witnesses said the inspectors were ticketing cars illegally parked around the soccer fields when a group of people angry about the fines turned on the council officers.
‘‘There was unacceptable behaviour from a number of patrons attending a children’s sporting event which put the health and wellbeing of officers at risk,’’ citizens services manager Laurienne Winbanks said.
The council reacted to the parking issues last Saturday by unlocking temporary over-flow parking.
Ticket inspectors were nowhere to be seen following the mass ticketing and resulting crowd anger the previous Saturday.
Shepparton lawyer and ‘‘soccer dad’’ Luke Slater said it was a pleasing development and the extra parking spaces had been a welcome relief.
‘‘It was a good sign,’’ he said.
Mr Slater put the new parking options and lack of inspectors down to a groundswell of public opinion on the issue.
He also suggested those who had been fined should write to the council and request a reprieve.
‘‘Everyone’s entitled to write to the council within 14 days of getting their ticket. (Council) probably won’t acknowledge it publicly, but they might accept they tackled this in a punitive way and act in good faith’’
Mayor Kim O’Keeffe said the council had listened and moved to open more parking spaces.
‘‘Last weekend council opened up over 40 more car spaces,’’ she said.
‘‘We had council staff look at the parking... and this certainly helped.
‘‘However, there were still some cars illegally parked with visible parks a few minutes away available.
‘‘I encourage those that may not get a park right at the ground to drop off those that are not able to physically walk. We also need to be aware of the safety issue when parking illegally.
‘‘I want all of our clubs and families to enjoy this facility and we will continue to look at options to increase more parking.’’
Councillor and former soccer coach Les Oroszvary said the council had been listening and was trying to deal with a range of issues.
Cr Oroszvary said a zero-tolerance approach was not the best solution, believing other options could have been explored, such as warning drivers before issuing fines.
However, Cr Chris Hazelman said plenty of warning had been given.
‘‘It wasn’t heavy-handed. There’d been an enormous amount of publicity about the parking,’’ Cr Hazelman said.
‘‘We run into parking restrictions wherever we go and when it’s inconvenient it doesn’t mean we park on garden beds or roundabouts.’’
The council issued a statement confirming different fines were issued for different offences.
‘‘Infringements were issued for varying offences from stopping in loading zones, parking on nature strips and parking in ‘No Stopping’ zones. Each of these offences has a different penalty amount,’’ the statement read.
‘‘The parking fines will only be issued to any driver that is breaking the law. Council is focused on providing a safe environment for all users of the Sports City.’’