A NEW taxi rank with toilets, lighting and CCTV surveillance will improve late-night safety in Bendigo’s CBD, according to those behind the project.
The $700,000 Safe Transport Space was yesterday unveiled in front of about 100 people including politicians, current and former councillors and mayors, and police officers.
Acting Superintendent Brad Dixon said the site would help curb late-night problems caused by intoxication. “Late at night is a high-risk time for young people,” he said.
“You get alcohol, you get a lot of young people in together, it’s a recipe that’s got to be monitored.
“We’ve got to do whatever we can to try to minimise the risk in regard to late-night assaults and this is a significant part of that.”
The site also includes Bendigo’s first public WiFi hotspot. The project was run and partly funded by the City of Greater Bendigo, with grants from the Victorian government.
Council director of planning and development Prue Mansfield said the structure had been built off-site and craned into place and was designed to suit the heritage precinct.
Former councillor James Reade attended the unveiling, noting the project had been close to him during his time on the council. “This has been going on for four or five years easily. The main issues started when the lockout came in at Bendigo with no access to any of the clubs after 2am,” he said.
“There were no toilets this side of the town in the CBD. The safety and amenity it provides the users is spot on, it’s working really well.”
Transport Minister Terry Mulder said 29 councils had applied for funding to upgrade taxi ranks.
“It’s important to say, number one that we have safe cabs, that people feel safe in cabs and drivers feel safe in cabs, but also there are good pick-up and drop-off points particularly in this particular area here,” he said. “I think there are five late-night venues capable of housing about 3000 people.
“So we’ve got an area like this police monitor, Salvation Army are here too if people are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, cool them down, (and) get them out of an area where there could be a point of conflict with other people.”
He said the $700,000 price tag wasn’t expensive given the number of people who would use the site.
Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum said the facility would also support key attractions like Bendigo Art Gallery and The Capital theatre.