A town reunited: Little River reclassified as regional Victoria

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The tiny town of Little River, which has been split in half by Melbourne's metropolitan border, will be reunited at midnight.

The state government announced on Thursday night, after a campaign by locals, that the entire town would be reclassified as regional Victoria, with the boundary to be adjusted to go around the community instead of through it.

Little River was the only town on the metropolitan border divided by the 'ring of steel', which is based on Local Government Area boundaries rather than postcodes. The boundary was introduced to keep Melburnians from travelling to regional areas under strict coronavirus restrictions.

The long line heading into the Little River checkpoint.Credit:Nine News

The Age has previously reported on the 1300-person town’s plight. Located 20 kilometres west of Werribee and 30 kilometres north-east of Geelong, the town's general store and pub were all on the metropolitan side of the river.

Residents from the Wyndham side of the river faced a $4957 fine for travelling to their local supermarket in Lara.

The change, which will see residents who were previously on the metropolitan side of the border now able to move freely into the rest of regional Victoria, comes into effect from 11.59pm on Thursday night.

“The border between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria has been vital to containing the spread of coronavirus, but we know that this measure has had wider impacts for the Little River community," Werribee MP and Treasurer Tim Pallas said.

“Adjusting the ring of steel to go around Little River instead of through it will alleviate any confusion and unify this community under the same set of restrictions.”

The government said the current vehicle checkpoint on the Princes Highway at the Little River turn-off would remain in place due to "physical infrastructure requirements", but that police would enforce the new metropolitan border, which now ends Wests Road, Bulban Road, Edgars Road and Argoona Road, before connecting again with neighbouring LGA boundaries.

Member for Lara, John Eren, said the move was a win for the town, but reminded locals they still needed to abide by the restrictions in place for regional Victoria, which is currently under the third step of the government's roadmap out of lockdown.

The boundary change means residents may need to apply for a work permit if their work is located in Greater Melbourne.

On the other side of the bay, Mornington Peninsula has also been mounting the argument for the Peninsula to be reclassified as regional Victoria, but the government has so far shown no indication of changing the classification.

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