500 residents protest 'devastating' plans for paid parking
MORE than 500 residents attended a rally against the planned roll-out of metered car parking at Bangalow on Saturday.
The protest coincides with plans for the Bangalow Chamber of Commerce to lodge a written complaint with NSW Roads and Maritime Services over Byron Shire Council's decision to implement metered parking at the village from January 1, 2018.
In August, Byron Shire councillors rejected a motion to adjust parking times in the village, in favour of an amendment by Mayor Simon Richardson in support of a town centre pay parking plan for Bangalow, in line with Byron CBD's existing scheme.
When the council announced its plans, general manager Ken Gainger said paid parking would "result in significant improvements to parking turnover and availability in the Bangalow town centre".
"It will provide a much-needed source of revenue dedicated to improving Bangalow's community infrastructure," Mr Gainger said.
But chamber president Joanne Millar rejected the proposed $4 an hour fee for visitors, $55 a year pass for local ratepayers, and $110-year for local workers who don't live in the area.
She said the costs would have a "devastating" impact on small businesses.
"Paid parking has a dramatic impact on local businesses, and there are councils in rural Victoria which had to remove it," she said.
Ms Millar cast doubt on the council's ability to introduce paid parking "solely as a revenue-raising exercise".
She claims two studies which resulted in support of paid parking were "invalid".
"The first study was only done over a day period, during the BBQ and Bluegrass Festival," Ms Millar said.
"It showed cars were turning over at an average of once every 54 minutes.
"So when the council says paid parking will fix a problem, it's simply not true because, we don't have a problem that needs fixing. By council's own admission, the cars are turning over."
Ms Millar criticised a second study carried out by a Melbourne consultant for not adequately probing the community's stance on paid parking before drawing its conclusion of support.
"I attended every single meeting of that study and the purpose of it was to discuss footpaths, mobility, traffic flow, and not to discuss paid parking," she said.
Cr Richardson was contacted for comment.