Sunday, January 21, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Editor December 14, 2017

PARKING DILEMMA

Dear Editor,

Make no mistake about it. A parking tax is having a major contributing effect in the decline in the Shepparton central business district retail as claimed by Cr Shelley Sutton (in recent media). It has little support from the public.

It is obvious the capital costs, the labour costs, the collection costs and damage caused to businesses does not justify the tax. It is doing more harm than good.

A new councillor gets elected to council on a platform of the abolition parking meters (she was out with an angle grinder in her advertising), gets no support, but was frustrated by her fellow councillors when she put her proposal forward.

Cr Sutton claimed CBD retail was in decline and parking meters were a factor. In denying her claims, they are not convinced. The main objections seem to be the loss of parking tax revenue and availability of space, how to measure results and what model to use.

When terms like “knee-jerk,” “populist,” “budgetary implications” and “perceived benefits” are used, it seems a vote should be taken to see if the councillors would support the concept before wasting more money on consultants.

With the prevailing attitude I can foresee the parking tax remaining until there is a change in mindset or councillors are replaced by candidates on a no parking tax ticket.

The others would have to defend their parking tax policy, which is on the public record at the next elections. Regarding the claims that the trial would have to stack up instead of wasting more money on consultants: why not run a trial before the next municipal elections across a financial year so a ballot could be run in conjunction with municipal ballot and let the ratepayers, the shoppers, the businesses and the general public have a say. Would this not be democratic?

This trial could be styled on the successful model at the City of Albury, which abolished parking meters about 20 years ago.

They managed without parking tax revenue and there is no parking space problem. If it works there and in Wagga, why wouldn’t it work here?

The council has two clear choices — do they bring this regional city into the 21st century as other centres have done and encourage growth in the CBD or do they continue with the punitive parking tax and see further decline?

There is no doubt that the decline in the CBD retail is due to the parking meters. A result in a recent online poll showed 3 percent in favour and 97 percent against. That is pretty convincing and not surprising because why would you put yourself through the stress of time limits and penalties when you can enjoy no time limits in the free car parks in our friendly shopping centres.

Even the Mayor, Cr Kim O’Keeffe has recognised as stated in The Adviser on Wednesday 29 November, “there is frustration within the community that this has gone on too long.” The frustration isn’t with the delays but the fact that we may not get free parking.

They are setting the trial up to fail. They need to be fair and consult with a successful free parking city like Albury to set it up properly.

The results by a vote of the people most affected, the general public and traders, would be the best way of measuring its success.

Seems like parking meters are like a sacred milking cow to the majority of councillors. They are stalling and delaying it so they can stop it.

They have showed a profound reluctance to move with the times and support it. It is a serious impediment to the growth of the CBD.

Yours sincerely,

Norm Sims

Shepparton