Ambo move – ‘good idea, wrong site’

THE search for a site for a new ambulance station in Maffra continues, with the Sale-Maffra Rd site in front of Gippsland Vehicle Collection’s motor museum remaining a possibility.

The Gippsland Times understands other sites for the new $1.3 million station had already been considered and deemed unsuitable.

Ambulance Victoria has informed GVC committee members of its intention to send surveyors to determine the suitability of the Sale-Maffra Rd site in the coming weeks, following confirmation of plans for a new facility in Maffra.

Ambulance Victoria regional manager Gippsland Mick Stephenson said Ambulance Victoria was currently investigating options for a new building to accommodate paramedics in Maffra.

“We anticipate that construction will commence in early 2014, subject to us gaining an appropriate site and planning approvals,” he said.

GVC has raised concerns about the suitability of the site, saying the proposed new station would block the view of the tourist attraction to Sale-Maffra Rd motorists and wouldn’t allow the club to re-design for a safer entry and exit point.

While GVC lodged an expression of interest to buy the land through Wellington Shire Council in 2009, it had been told there are up to six parties interested in the land.

GVC president Doc Doherty said while the collection could work around a new ambulance station, he believed the site wasn’t appropriate.

He said cost appeared to be the driving force rather than the suitability of the site.

“The understanding we got is this wasn’t the first site of choice,” he said.

“They had checked around; I think they mentioned four or five different sites.

“For various reasons, they couldn’t go ahead with these sites.

“One of the reasons, I think they related to the caravan park, and there was objections from maybe ambulances going out with sirens on and things like that, which is understandable.

“But I think price has got a lot to do with it because apparently, the sort of impression we got is as soon as they talk price, the government department, the price went up.

“Whearas if they get a block from VicTrack, because it’s one government department to another, they get it at a special low valuation.

“So what we are saying is no, that shouldn’t be the criteria, the criteria should be the best site for the ambulance station, not just the cheapest land.”

Mr Doherty said there could be issues with pipes and easements at the site.

“They are apparently going to appoint a surveyor to come down because it’s very complicated when you start looking at these things on maps as to where everything is.

“There’s easements in there, there’s a pumping station, there’s pipelines.

“They didn’t seem to be aware of the water pipe situation in there.

“What we are waiting for is for them to come back to us is to give us the update on what they are planning to do.”

Mr Doherty said traffic could also be a problem for ambulances trying to access the busy Sale-Maffra Rd.

“I can’t quote any names, but I have spoken to a retired paramedic, who has driven ambulances for a long time, and he said it’s not the spot for an ambulance,” he said.

“He said it replicates problems that he has seen in Melbourne areas where they’re close to major intersections.”

GVC secretary Peter Gault said the only correspondence received in relation to the VicTrack land was a letter from the Wellington Shire mayor in 2010, and Mr Gault suggested a 13 acre Crown land site just down the road as an appropriate site.