IT’S time for Byron Shire Council to look at building a multi-level car park rather than putting parking meters in Byron Bay’s CBD if the town is to survive.
Byron United (BU) president, Sevegne Newton, made the comments in an angry reaction to council’s recent proposal to raise $2m annually in revenue by extending the paid parking in the Bay’s CBD.
It comes at a time, she said, when three CBD businesses had closed their doors within a week – with another five set to shut their doors – and another 25 businesses up for sale.
Ms Newton said it was all to do with the decrease in international tourism because of the strong Australian dollar, the loss of road workers and their families from the region as work on the Ballina bypass progresses and the Global Financial Crisis, which was only just hitting Byron Bay now.
She agreed, sarcastically, with the argument that extending paid parking would help with traffic management: "It will help all right, because no one will come into town."
"And it will lead to job losses," Ms Newton said.
"Loss of jobs, loss of business – we’ll lose $2m in a quarter."
Ms Newton said that a multi-level car park, or a specific site for all-day car parking which was secure and safe with proper lighting and in which motorists paid an hourly fee when exiting, was what the CBD needed.
She said that would allow visitors the time to enjoy what Byron Bay had to offer, and still% provide council with some revenue to spend on fixing roads and other public infrastructure in town.
"Instead of encouraging people to come, to dine and shop, we’ll have them panicking about their parking," Ms Newton said.
"We want people to wander in and out of the shops, go and have a cup of coffee, enjoy lunch, walk on the beach, but they will be more worried about racing back to a parking meter.
"It’s a short-term solution that is going to have huge ramifications for our town."
Byron Shire’s deputy mayor, Cr Patrick Morrisey, responded to Byron United’s criticisms of the extension of paid parking.
"It is a direct and targeted fee applied to visitors using community infrastructure that council has to maintain," he wrote.
"Byron Shire has only about 30,000 residents, yet over 1.4 million visitors per annum, which costs a small council a lot of money to maintain.
"Businesses make revenue from visitors on private (and public) land and indeed Byron United is proactively seeking more visitors. Council also needs to make revenue from visitors using public land."
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