Coroner’s recommendation over dangerous footpath ignored two years on

By Myles Peterson

A dangerous section of footpath in Shepparton’s central business district where a man was badly injured, leading to his death in 2015, has received no safety upgrades despite a coroner’s recommendation to install mirrors, signage and ‘‘no standing’’ zones.

In February, 2017, coroner Audrey Jamieson found Carey Livingstone James, 73, of Shepparton, died as a result of the poor visibility of the footbath, at the car park on the corner of Maude and Vaughan Sts, Shepparton.

The coroner recommended Greater Shepparton City Council implement safety measures with the aim of preventing similar deaths and protecting pedestrians and drivers.

More than two years after the recommendation was handed down, no work has been done at the site.

The council absolved itself of responsibility, stating it was not the owner of the car park in question.

The council holds maintenance responsibility and duty of care towards users on the footpath on which Mr James was struck, a VicRoads spokesperson said.

On Friday, April 24, 2015, Mr James was riding his mobility scooter on the footpath next to the car park when he was struck by a Hyundai Elantra exiting onto Maude St. He was hospitalised and died 3 weeks later.

A spokesperson for the Coroners Court of Victoria said the judicial authority made its recommendation appropriately.

‘‘Through their investigation, the coroner determines the entity best placed to enact recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths,’’ she said.

Council infrastructure director Phil Hoare said the Coroners Court of Victoria was in error.

‘‘The off-street car park is privately owned and council advised the coroner of this immediately following the release of the report,’’ he said.

‘‘Council completed a proactive inspection of all its off-street car parks and, in 2017, implemented a series of safety improvements at various sites across townships within our municipality.

‘‘In addition, to improve safety of blind and low vision pedestrians council installed tactile ground surface indicators on footpaths on both sides of driveways to all council car parks.’’

After receiving the coroner’s recommendations, then council projects manager Dylan Hesselberg replied via a statement ‘‘that some public off-street car parks including the off-street car park at the corner of Maude St and Vaughan St are privately owned’’.

The statement went on to list 25 privately-owned car parks in the region, along with postal addresses, ‘‘if the Coroner Court (sic) of Victoria wishes to notify the owners of these off-street car parks’’.

Colliers International, the previous manager of the car park next to the footpath where the accident happened, claimed to have no knowledge of the coroner’s recommendation and it had not been contacted by the Coroners Court of Victoria or Greater Shepparton City Council.

Current manager, CHP Management, which reportedly took over in April last year, did not respond to a request for information.

The council implemented safety measures on footpaths at its own car parks, promising to install ‘‘tactile ground surface indicators’’ on both sides of driveways, but not on the footpaths of privately-operated facilities.

It also moved two rubbish bins and make three other alterations to entrances and line markings.

Proposed works in the area would improve safety, Mr Hoare said.

‘‘Council continues to improve the safety of road users across our municipality with works including upgraded pedestrian crossings, installation of guard railing and intersection upgrades,’’ he said.

‘‘The Maude St upgrade works, including the bus interchange, plaza area and street scape works, which commenced recently, will significantly improve the amenity and safety for all road users in this area of Maude St.’’