As Byron Shire Council moves ahead with plans to implement paid parking in the town from January 1, the Bangalow Chamber of Commerce has called a snap meeting of members at Bangalow Hotel tonight.
Chamber president Jo Millar is meanwhile meeting with Ballina MP Tamara Smith today in a last-minute attempt to head off the move.
In a letter to councillors earlier this month, the chamber implored the council not to pre-empt the outcomes of the Bangalow Village Plan, currently underway, by rushing in paid parking.
Ms Millar said the Bangalow retail sector was ‘currently experiencing some of the toughest business conditions in recent decades and a weak commercial sector will ultimately threaten the liveability of Bangalow’.
‘Bangalow needs some respite. We therefore request that the motion to introduce paid parking be rescinded,’ the letter read.
Business impact not considered
‘While revenue for a cash-strapped council seems to be a major motivation for rushing in paid parking, the impact of revenue on businesses has not been considered,’ the letter said.
‘Even the RMS, within its Paid Parking guidelines, talks about paid parking as a “final” option. It says it is necessary to ensure that paid parking is not introduced solely as a revenue raising device,’ it continued.
The letter also cast doubts on the amount of money paid parking could raise in the village and whether it would actually be retained for the betterment of Bangalow.
‘The Mayor… stated that Bangalow’s footpaths are in poor repair and that the revenue from paid parking would fund this repair.
‘However, only Section 94 development contributions can be “quarantined”, so there is little confidence that this promise will be kept.’
Ms Millar said the chamber had not been made aware of the amount of development contributions currently earmarked for Bangalow and the council’s plans for how it would be spent.
She added there was ‘a lack of evidence supporting the amount of money that paid parking will raise and even a loose estimate based on Byron Bay would be irrelevant because the two villages are completely different entities.’
‘Assuming that you were able to fill 20 parks a day for seven days a week, at $4 an hour would deliver $252,000 a year in revenue or four years to make a gross amount of $1 million, less establishment cost, monitoring and the detrimental impact on local business,’ Ms Millar’s letter read.
The meeting will take place tonight (Tuesday November 28) at 5:15pm in the pool room of the Bangalow Hotel.