Hoon activity ramps up
By Sean Car
Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne Arron Wood met with more than 50 Yarra’s Edge (YE) residents at Point Park on June 19 amid increasing trouble with hoon drivers in the precinct since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
While issues caused by regular weekend car and motorcycle club meet-ups surrounding Point Park Crescent and South Wharf Drive had largely dissipated during lockdowns, the easing of restrictions has only seen problems intensify during the past month. The same issues also continue to affect residents living in NewQuay, with hoon drivers continuing to frequent streets surrounding Ron Barassi Snr Park on weekends.
It was enough for the Deputy Lord Mayor, the council’s manager of on-street compliance services Dean Robertson and local police to call another meeting with angered YE residents last month to discuss further solutions for dealing with the issues.
Cr Wood highlighted that since late last year, the council had installed CCTV cameras, speed humps, no standing zone signs, as well as fencing around Point Park in an effort to try and deter the groups from gathering, speeding and doing burnouts in the area.
Dean Robertson said the installation of CCTV, as well as a stronger police presence, had led to more infringements being issued to motorists caught offending, which residents said had helped curb some of the issues prior to COVID-19.
While all residents at the meeting voiced a strong appreciation of the efforts of Cr Wood, the council and local police to date, they said more needed to be done.
With many attesting to regular drag races up Lorimer St, late-night revving of engines and speeding along the 40 km/h South Wharf Drive, they said the impact on amenity had become too much to bear. One resident even alleged that drug deals had been taking place in the neighbouring side streets.
Cr Wood said some of the council’s next steps included meeting with the car groups to discuss the issues personally, as well as speaking to VicRoads and the Port of Melbourne about lowering the speeds limit along the YE section of Lorimer St to 50 km/h.
He also encouraged any willing residents to keep a decibel monitoring device in their apartments for a period of time to provide the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) with greater capacity to issue sound emission infringements for excessive engine noise.
Cr Wood said he heard residents’ “frustrations” and that the council was committed to doing everything it could within its powers to improve the situation for residents.
“Part of what we want to talk to you about tonight is the things that we are enforcing and the things that we can’t enforce, because we want to be absolutely honest with you that we can’t enforce laws that aren’t there,” Cr Wood told residents.
Inspector Troy Papworth from Melbourne East Police Station said, “where we can enforce something, we will, and I know that since the start of June we’ve had approximately 600 minutes of police patrol time down here on Friday and Saturday nights since the start of June.”
“We do have a number of joint police operations coming up between the City of Melbourne and the police. We are listening to you and we do hear what your concerns are, we are working hard to try and address those concerns.”
Dean Robertson said, “some of things that we’ve put in, such as the cameras, we feel have been effective to us but you may feel that you’ve seen the results down there. Through some intellectual systems on top of the cameras we’re able to cut all the footage to all cars that are illegally parked, especially in the no standing zones and out the front of the pizza shop and issue an infringement to those.”
“We’ve started issuing infringements via mail. Some of the people who’ve received them are not happy. So, it’s a surprise and word will start to get around.”
Some of the suggestions raised by residents included nominating Lorimer St for a speed camera, installing permit parking around Point Park after 6pm and placing a ban on trucks using air brakes along Lorimer St.
Cr Wood encouraged any affected residents with issues or suggestions to email the action group’s leaders.
“There are some genuine concerns from residents and it’s a significant number of residents who have provided regular updates on anti-social behaviour occurring in the precinct,” he said.
“It was pleasing to meet with residents and hear directly from so many of them and we’ll keep on working hard to address their legitimate concerns.”
“We want Docklands and the distinctive precincts in Docklands to be good for residents and businesses, but ultimately these are significant residential areas and must be treated as such.” •