‘We’re now afraid at night’

LOVE: Ballarat couple Kitty and Peter McGeary, who say they were accosted and harassed by two men aged in their 40s at the sometimes troubled Little Bridge Street car park on Monday morning just before 11am. Picture: Kate Healy

LOVE: Ballarat couple Kitty and Peter McGeary, who say they were accosted and harassed by two men aged in their 40s at the sometimes troubled Little Bridge Street car park on Monday morning just before 11am. Picture: Kate Healy

A Ballarat couple who both have disabilities have been left distraught after they were targeted by thugs at the Little Bridge Street car park on Monday.

Peter and Kitty McGeary were in Ballarat's CBD doing their grocery shopping before they were confronted by two loiterers who quickly became aggressive outside the public toilets about 10.45am.

Mr McGeary, who is legally blind, feared during the unprovoked attack for the safety of his wife, who has a speech disability.

“This bloke came out with his fists up to me and all I could see was a figure,” Mr McGeary said.

“He was carrying on, screaming and swearing. Then his friend came charging out from the toilets like a Mallee bull." 

The two men, who it's believed were both aged around 40, eventually moved on, leaving the McGearys and onlookers shocked.

Ms McGeary said she felt scared after the ordeal.

“I was in the ladies, I could hear my husband screaming and the other man was ready to punch him, so I started screaming at him,” she said.

“We went to the police, and a lady took everything down, who said more people should complain about such incidents.

“I’m concerned about the punch-ups in the street and we’re getting scared at night."

Mr McGeary, who has lived in Ballarat for more than 60 years, said homeless people did not pose a threat until hard drugs such as ice entered the city.

He hoped police and council would act.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen – Ballarat is always in the news for the wrong reasons,” Mr McGeary said.

"I’ve watched Ballarat grow up. Herman the German, he was a homeless man, and never bothered anybody – those people who were homeless had pride back then. 

“These ones have no pride, they don’t want to commit to society. I’ve seen them drinking at 9am."

It comes six months after a joint project from the state government and council kicked off, aimed at revamping the Little Bridge Street car park.

Works include landscaping, installing public artwork and improving lighting and CCTV cameras.

Ballarat police also devoted significant resources to the Bridge Mall and surrounding area last year, enforcing foot and bike patrols.

But some residents think the project has been long overdue. 

Karhl Earnshaw said it would rejuvenate the area, but argued beefed up security was the only way to stop the ongoing anti-social behaviour in the troubled precinct. 

“I know people who do not shop there anymore, they now shop elsewhere, because they feel unsafe,” he said.