PAID PARKING: Byron Bay Council to vote on keeping funds raised in town.
PAID PARKING: Byron Bay Council to vote on keeping funds raised in town. Christian Morrow

Paid parking queries prompt new plan

HOPES that ratepayer anger over paid parking can be put to rest now ride on Councillor Paul Spooner's motion, aimed at ensuring all money raised in Byron Bay's parking meters gets spent in Byron Bay, is successful at the February meeting of Byron Shire Council.

"This motion, if successful, will guarantee that what goes into the parking meters in Byron gets spent here,” Cr Spooner said.

"It will also set up the precedent that, down the track, if council wants to set up paid parking in other towns in the shire, people can be confident the money will be spent in that town.”

The difficulty for council arose from the widely held perception by many in the community that all the money raised by paid parking in Byron Bay would be spent in Byron Bay.

But this was not the case.

"At the beginning of this year we had $3.3million available and this year the projection is that we will net another $3million.

"Of this we are budgeted to spend $3.5million in Byron and $2.2million in other parts of the shire with $600,000 remaining unallocated.

"As it stands now Byron Bay will get around 50 per cent of the revenue raised in the town from meters.”

This same expectation, that all money raised in a town would be spent in that town, has formed part of debate around the introduction of paid parking in Brunswick Heads and Bangalow.

In the end the introduction of paid parking to Brunswick Heads and Bangalow has been held off while council undertakes further parking studies.

This led to many in the Byron Bay community, including anti-paid parking campaigner Paul McCarthy and Chair of the Byron Bay Masterplan Committee Chris Hanley, questioning how and where Byron's parking fees were being spent.

"What this process has shown is that there has never been a formal decision adopted by council to allocate all the money raised from paid parking in Byron Bay exclusively to Byron Bay,” Cr Spooner said.

Cr Spooner's motion, if it is successful, would "allocate all future net revenue from the Byron Bay Paid Parking Scheme to be spent on projects and works in Byron Bay”.

The motion would also see council "provide an updated account of the Byron Bay Paid Parking Scheme on an ongoing basis through the Quarterly Budget Review process”.

Cr Spooner also envisages the creation of "a dashboard barometer on the Byron Shire Council Paid Parking web page that identifies money raised through the Paid Parking Scheme and how it has been allocated”.

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