PERILOUS: Traffic concerns halt Anzac Day marchers

Colac City Band acting drum major Bryan Cuthbertson was concerned for his fellow marchers’ safety when he led Colac’s Anzac Day march onto Murray Street.

Colac City Band acting drum major Bryan Cuthbertson was concerned for his fellow marchers’ safety when he led Colac’s Anzac Day march onto Murray Street.

COLAC CITY BAND members had to abandon the last leg of Colac’s Anzac Day march due to safety concerns.

Bryan Cuthbertson said he had to halt eastbound traffic on the road when he and other marchers turned left from Gellibrand Street onto Murray Street while marching to a wreath-laying ceremony at Memorial Square.

Mr Cuthbertson had to direct traffic because police members who were going to assist with the march were attending other incidents.

“When I marched them down from the church after the service, I had to take it into my own hands to stop cars coming down,” Mr Cuthbertson said.

“There was a lot of traffic coming that I had to stop.”

Mr Cuthbertson said he and his bandmates abandoned the final leg of their march from Memorial Square to the Colac RSL after the ceremony because traffic along Murray Street made conditions “too dangerous”.

He said he was disappointed to have not fully completed the march.

“After the wreath-laying ceremony, we always form back out on the main road and do a quick march back down to the RSL,” he said.

“It’s the last little bit of respect we can pay, we only do it once every 12 months.”

Colac police Sergeant Murray Matthews said Colac police officers were intending to help with traffic management during the march.

But he said officers were unable to assist because they were “tied up” responding to incidents at Pirron Yallock, Barongarook and Colac on Monday morning.

“Officers are rostered on for normal patrol duties and will attend unless other tasks take precedence,” Sgt Matthews said.

Colac RSL president Brian Lloyd said the RSL applied to Victoria Police earlier this year for assistance during the march.

“Whilst I was in the march, it occurred to me there were no police there, I thought maybe something urgent had come up,” he said.

Mr Lloyd said Colac RSL did not apply for a formal road closure on Murray Street for this year’s

Anzac Day commemorations because the cost was “very expensive”.

But he said the safety of marchers was his “number one priority”.

“Road closures are very expensive, last year they were very expensive, so we didn’t have road closures,” he said.

“To set up the road barriers and so on the RSL really can’t afford that amount of money.

“People consider the march is the number-one priority and people accept cars have to stop for the march.”

Colac Otway Shire Council chief executive Sue Wilkinson said VicRoads managed Murray Street.

But she said an alternative to managing traffic on Murray Street was a “stop and go” arrangement that does not require involvement or permission from the council or VicRoads.

“For a stop and go to occur, event organisers must work with local police to have traffic stopped for a short period of time,” Ms Wilkinson said.

“It is council’s understanding that on previous Anzac Days, with the exception of last year’s Anzac centenary, stop and go arrangements have been in place for the march.”

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