GET USED TO IT: Current signage at the Clarles Beach Car Park.
GET USED TO IT: Current signage at the Clarles Beach Car Park. Christian Morrow

Byron Bay paid parking debated

IS IT the key to solving the Byron Shire's infrastructure crisis or will it be the ruin of us all?

At Monday night's Byron United Paid Parking Business Forum and Q and A, nearly 50 local business owners gathered to voice their concerns and hear from Byron Shire Council about the paid-parking scheme set to be introduced by December.

Moderated by Byron United president, Michael O'Grady, a panel consisting of Byron Shire Council's general manger Ken Gainger and councillors Allan Hunter and Chris Cubis faced a sceptical audience.

All panellists stressed that Council had no choice but to introduce the scheme, to address infrastructure funding shortfalls and avoid a general rate rise.

Councillor Hunter said that Byron needed to get its financial house in order or face possible forced amalgamation.

They also highlighted this was a draft plan that could be tweaked in terms of fees, duration and the areas to be regulated.

Mr Gainger said depending on the technology used, the set-up costs were around $900,000 with the scheme expected to raise $2.7 annually.

Meeting concerns focused around the cost of parking for local and non-resident staff of businesses and the effect on visitor numbers of a $4 per hour parking fee.

Under the current plan, non-resident employees are faced with having to pay $80 per car per month to park in the Butler Street Reserve, where Council expects to create around 100 parking spaces.

Most attending the meeting said the impost of $960 annually per employee would send many marginal businesses broke.

Still others exhorted the Council to find other ways of raising the funds including selling Council assets, building a waterslide or an all weather sporting venue.

Councillors are still divided over the scheme. Councillor Rose Wanchap attended the meeting and said the scheme would unfairly target locals. Council will receive a further report in July.


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