Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Park it


Did you know that parking charges are the fee that consumers hate most? This was the result of a UK survey that came back with an overwhelming majority of people surveyed saying parking should be free.

Yep, no-one likes paying for parking. I reckon you could say this would be a universal result. No-one wants to pay for parking. Charging for empty space is like taxing for air. And to be honest, we’re sick of being slugged. Everywhere you turn there are hidden and not-so-hidden taxes. Fees on ATM cash withdrawals, fees on overdue bills, rates, water, petrol, income tax, GST, car rego, road tolls, bridge tolls, tunnel tolls, debit and credit card surcharges, charges for using your mobile overseas, for updating insurance policies, taxes on your food, on your clothes… charges for being alive. We’re sick and tired of being taxed for just existing. By the time some poor bastard puts his pants on each morning he’s probably been taxed 10 times. When he eventually parks his car out the front of a shop and he’s got to scramble for a few gold coins then he’s done. He pays for parking and then realises he doesn’t have enough for a coffee.

So he drives home deflated. Why go out? What’s out there for us in the big wide world other than more tax? Asking for money before you’ve even got out of the car doesn’t make a person feel very welcome. We’re not Sydney. The reason people come here is to get away from the prickish way they have to live every day. Imagine how those people are going to feel when they find out the simple life is gone. People come here to holiday and to live because they craved a laidback lifestyle. A life that was more uncomplicated, less materialistic. It’s enough. We’ve got fine fatigue. Can the Man please stop taxing us? Can you stop bleeding every last bloody cent out of us? It’s depressing. The public are starting to feel like a lemon having every last drop juiced out. And guess what? There ain’t no juice left in our lemons.

If the council wants to make lemonade maybe they need to grow a few lemon trees. Parking fees are punitive. Pay or be punished. Oh, and by the way, enjoy your holiday. Oh yes, it’s just $4 here and $4 there. But it adds up. Parking fees just add one more tax onto our shoulders. It’s a tax.

You can call it a fee if you like, but it’s a tax. Brunswick Heads and Bangalow don’t want paid parking. I’d say the community is pretty vocal about it. But it seems Council has suddenly become hearing impaired. Brunswick Heads and Bangalow are very different villages from Byron Bay. They want to be able to manage their own parking challenges in accordance with what suits their particular needs. Nobody likes a one-size-fits-all prescriptive approach. And let’s face it, penalising people for parking in your town doesn’t create more parking by adding extra ‘space’. It just means fewer people come to your town to park and therefore shop. Oh yes, you can get a park in Byron now. That’s because that person who would have stopped has gone elsewhere. Probably to Bangalow or Brunswick Heads. Paid parking isn’t a solution. It’s a business.

It’s rampant opportunism. And it’s ugly. Those parking meters look like angry money-sucking daleks. Beautiful Bangalow has kept herself in pretty good shape. She’s a heritage town. Everything is so gorgeous there you wouldn’t think of slipping down town in your tracky dacks. If you want to get bread and milk you’d better whack on some funky threads. Bangalow is all about understated style. So why would you put those ugly monstrosities into a beautiful streetscape? It’s a crime against architecture! I mean are there even shabby chic versions of the meters? And Brunswick Heads? Well it’s about being laidback. Uncomplicated. Chilled. There’s nothing chilled about paid parking. Bruns still has the charm of a fishing village. So protect it. No more paid parking.

There’s nothing more shitty then being told what to do by a machine. I mean we could at least be using humans. Imagine the drop in unemployment when the council introduce an elaborate valet system where some dude with tatts and dreadlocks takes $5 to park your car on the Gold Coast. Want to show your opposition?

Rally at the Hotel Brunswick on Saturday 11 November from 6–7.30pm.

7 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Park it”

  1. Andrew Emmet says:

    Many years ago I owned a record shop in Ipswich.[QLD]
    I can’t remember why, but the Council removed all parking meter fees and times allowed to park, for one week. Some celebration of something I think.
    Our turnover doubled in that week!
    Parking fees and time allowed to park kills retail.
    The parking meters in Byron Bay are horrible and should be removed.
    And now Council wants to stuff up Bangalow and Mullumbimby!

  2. Mike Starsky says:

    Having spaces set aside for selfish morons to put their two tonnes of steel is bad enough. But when they resent paying a small fee for that privilege it really sucks.

  3. Sarah Buchanan says:

    Brilliant Mandy.

  4. Chris Byrne says:

    I moved out of the shire last year to Newrybar and can no longer pay for a permit as I’m in Ballina shire!
    Last month I paid $124 to park in Byron in order to use the local shops and services , pick up my kids from school, take them to swimming lessons, nippers. It cost me almost $10 just to walk the lighthouse and have coffee ( that does not include the coffee!). So sad that there is no provision to even allow me to buy a local permit for $50, although the council must be making a fortune from out of towners like me!

  5. John says:

    Pay by the hour, no prorata refunds!.
    When I know I will only be 15 minutes, do I take the risk and not pay the meter, all the while fearing some over zealous fake cop will take joy in issuing the fine…., or do I pay for the full hour.. maybe sell the ticket with 45 minutes left on it as I leave the space!.. yeah right.

    All those quick stops start to add up and wages are not going up at the same rate to match.

  6. Bifida says:

    Not sure what the problem is ….go round the corner, park for free in a side street and walk all of 20 metres to the main road. Walk that gluten off, girl!! Those of us in small cars wouldn’t be able to see past the big 4wds which line Jonson st and collision with a bicycle would be too likely when backing out.

  7. Sarah Ndiaye says:

    Hmmm, it’s like you forget your own words Mandy, Paid parking is the only legal way councils have to get any money from visitors. Locals pay a one off fee of $55 a year and end up getting the privilege of being able to pull over, post their letter, grab their coffee, stop and chat to a mate without a bother. The visitors make a contribution to support our community cope with them. We were visitors too over 20 years ago, now we pay rates instead. The resounding cry from residents during the rare rise discussion was – make the tourists pay. This is the only way they can – and it did not ruin business in Byron, that’s a load of rubbish. The hipocracy of the article must have escaped you. Sure, in an ideal world no one would ever have to pay for parking, but in an ideal world we wouldn’t have cars, we could just teleport around without a single emission, not even a fart. But off you go, raise the flag for the Chamber of Commerce, yell loudly at council – complain about some potholes and infrastructure on the way we can’t fix and all pat each other on the back for all the good work your doing. If you get a chance though, perhaps ask the Chamber to take aim at the landlords who’ve doubled rents over the last year for local businesses and curse those awesome local cafes that make such fantastic food and coffee all the hipsters and their families have migrated North and South. Paid parking probably won’t get through this time round, not because it’s not the right thing for Bruns, but Brunswick obviously isn’t ready for it – and us locals that have already started going to New Brighton and South Golden – where the coffees great and you don’t have to drive three times around the block for a park, will keep driving North.

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Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

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