Concessions by Byron Shire Council that would see all residents in the 2479 postcode offered the right to buy an annual permit instead of paying to park in Bangalow doesn’t go far enough according to the town’s chamber of commerce.
A snap meeting of 90 members held last Tuesday on the issue overwhelmingly rejected the plan, according to president Jo Milllar, who has called for a public protest in the town on December 9.
Plans to have a contractor install parking meters in the hinterland village by January 1 are already well underway, and the council says it’s unable to reverse its decision even if it wanted to.
But, in an attempt to head off resistance, Byron Mayor Simon Richardson has announced a plan to extend the sale of paid parking exemption permits to nearby residents of Ballina and Lismore LGAs. (The permits would also allow holders to park in Byron Bay.)
‘Residents in villages close to Bangalow and the Shire’s hinterland edge will be offered the opportunity to buy an E permit when pay parking is introduced on 1 January 2018,’ Cr Richarson announced last week.
‘People living in Clunes, Newrybar, Rosebank, Nashua, Brooklet, Booyong and Repentance Creek will be able to apply for an E permit because many outside the shire have Byron and Bangalow as their ‘home’ towns or beaches or schools, or doctors,’ he said on Facebook.
But responding to his post, some of the mayor’s Facebook followers seemed underwhelmed at the offer.
Ali Rayner wrote, ‘How about just offer it to anyone who needs to park in the Byron shire regularly?
‘We were Byron residents until we were priced out. Now we live in Lismore, but regularly visit Byron because it is still such a big part of our lives. We feel left out for no good reason.’
And Genevieve La Plage wrote, ‘There is no public transport provided from town to town, so what option do people have [other] than driving? Also, have you thought about the disincentive for those not living in these areas, or who are renting and unable to receive a permit, of visiting these towns if they have to pay just to stop in them?’
But while the mayor said, ‘the sky won’t fall in’ for Bangalow businesses when paid parking is introduced, Ms Millar retorted, ‘We see it as an onerous imposition’.
Ms Millar said: ‘We are not the only ones who feel strongly about paid parking. Communities all around Australia, including in Coogee, Yarraville and Henley Beach have fought paid parking and won.
‘There is now a trend for councils to turn off meters or take them out because of the negative impacts they have on small business. A study in Yarraville, in Victoria, found a 5 – 40 per cent decline in income for small businesses after the introduction of paid parking,’ Ms Millar said.
‘Bangalow is the smallest of [Byron] Shire’s four villages, a well-known attraction for its heritage streetscape, beautiful shops, fabulous restaurants and picturesque rural setting.
‘Contrary to Council’s spin, paid parking does not engender a relaxed shopping experience: rather it is proven it inhibits spending,’ Ms Millar said.
But the council’s director of infrastructure services, Phil Holloway, said pay parking would ‘improve the turnover of parking spaces’, which he argued was, ‘good for local business.’
‘Bangalow is a popular stop for visitors to the Byron Shire and finding a parking spot is often difficult particularly on the weekends and holidays,’ Mr Holloway said.
He urged all residents of Bangalow who don’t currently have parking permits to ‘buy an E permit now to avoid the last minute Christmas holiday rush’.
‘E permits apply to pay parking across the whole of Byron Shire, so if you already have one for Byron Bay you do not need to purchase a permit for Bangalow. People who have a Disability Parking Permit, or a blue Centrelink card are eligible for a free E permit,’ he said.