Just weeks before paid parking is due to take effect in Bangalow, the local Labor Party branch has called on Byron Shire Council to extend paid parking exemption permits to residents in surrounding areas.
And a member of the town’s progress association has accused the council of ‘failing its due diligence’ with relation to the planned implementation.
Despite widespread resident and business opposition, paid parking is set commence in Bangalow on January 1, 2018.
Unlike Byron Bay, the town is on the edge of the shire and Labor says the move will unfairly impact on residents of nearby villages, such as Newrybar and Clunes, which are in other LGAs.
Byron Labor Secretary Asren Pugh said council was determined to push ahead with paid parking in Bangalow.
‘If it does go ahead it is essential that the option to buy a parking permit is extended to people who are part of the Bangalow community, like Clunes and Newrybar,’ Mr Pugh said.
‘Lots of the children that go to Bangalow Public School, or the Community Childrens Centre live just over the border in Ballina or Lismore LGAs. It will split the community in two if we restrict their ability to park in town to pick up their kids or do a bit of local shopping.
‘We are calling on council to extend the ability to purchase parking permits to at least all of the 2479 postcode and to the villages that abut the shire, such as Clunes.
‘Council should take a generous approach to this issue and err on the side of letting people buy permits rather than not.
‘This is urgent and needs to be done before the beginning of any new paid parking regime.
‘If this is about getting money from tourists for infrastructure, then make sure it is targeting tourists and not splitting our community in two,’ Mr Pugh said.
Due diligence failure
Meanwhile Bangalow Progress Association member Jenny Bird has accused Byron Shire Council of failing in its ‘due diligence’ regarding its plans for paid parking in the town.
In a letter to The Echo Ms Bird accused the council of relying on parking survey data that related to one single day, ‘a Saturday with a large festival happening in the Showground.’
She also said the council’s own community consultation process resulted in a movement strategy report that raised concerns about paid parking and added that a survey on paid parking conducted by council staff was ‘statistically invalid’.
Ms Bird said the situation in Byron Bay was very different to Bangalow, where most visitors were ‘day trippers’.
‘Day trippers come to Bangalow for a leisurely shop, coffee and lunch and are therefore unlikely to park in a one-hour, or even two-hour, parking zone. If the council wants to use paid parking as a de facto tourist tax then the logic just doesn’t work with this plan,’ she said.
‘The claims and promises made in the media by the general manager about likely revenue for Bangalow are intemperate given the lack of robust data about parking behaviour, tourist numbers and behaviour in Bangalow.
‘Council resolved on August 24, 2017, to undertake a one-year pilot. There should be no talk or promises about revenue until revenue data from the pilot is available.
‘At the August council meeting, the council also resolved to enter into discussion with the Bangalow Guidance Group before the implementation date on January 1, 2018. This, quite simply, has not happened.
‘Good governance requires both good data and real community engagement in order for informed decisions to be made. Something has gone horribly wrong with the process of investigating the feasibility of paid parking in Bangalow. It has all the hallmarks of a fait accompli,’ Ms Bird said.