The Brunswick Heads chamber of commerce, represented by Kim Rosen, has again highlighted a lack of consultation by Council over parking arrangements for the town and rejected Greens mayor Simon Richardson’s plans to again introduce paid parking.
While she addressed Thursday’s Council meeting in the morning outlining staff report inadequacies, the mayor brought an unexpected lengthy amendment later in the day calling for paid parking for the town and expanding parking schemes.
It was voted down – Crs Lyon, Coorey, Cameron, Hackett, Spooner, Hunter voted against.
Instead, councillors voted for Cr Hunter’s motion to defer any decisions for a month.
Cr Hunter told the gallery it is ‘not in my nature to defer [decisions]… We haven’t talked to [businesses]…We should show good governance.’
Rosen later told The Echo, ‘Brunswick businesses want to know why the latest report by Traffic & Parking Consultants (TPS), who were engaged by Council with ratepayer money, was once again ignored’.
Ms Rosen said, ‘Recommendations in the staff report did not match those from TPS, critical data for councillors to be able to make informed decisions was missing, and there was no consultation with affected stakeholders, as was expected in the Parking Review.’
The contentious staff recommendations included turning all the all-day parking into 4-hour parking from Park Street west to Tweed Street and east of the Terrace to the surf club.
‘Where does Council think the workers will park? she asked.
According to Ms Rosen, the new arrangements are mostly working well, although businesses and customers have suggestions for slight tweaking of the parking management plan as part of the Parking Review, but were not asked.
‘TPS agrees with us, with data confirming that there are no significant issues with infringement levels.
‘TPS reported that there was adequate parking supply in the town centre to satisfy demands at all times of the year’.
She added TPS advised that while Mullum has reached capacity, both Bangalow and Brunswick Heads will approach or reach capacity within five years, she said.
‘The TPS Report did not recommend paid parking for Brunswick Heads. In fact, the TPS consultant present at the meeting stated categorically that paid parking was premature for our village.’
The TPS report says Bruns will reach parking capacity in five years, yet also states that the ‘majority of zones are operating at, or near capacity for a large part of the year.’
Mayor Simon Richardson told The Echo, ‘Paid parking is an effective parking management tool that has the added value of raising revenue from daytrippers, something most of us think is fair and reasonable.
‘As discussed in the report, paid parking is by far the most effective and successful way to ensure people park within the timelines set.
‘The other, less effective measure is to have more compliance staff issuing more fines.
‘The most equitable and effective way is through paid parking, and as we have seen from the program in Byron Bay, it makes life easier for locals with little imposition on locals.
He added, ‘Brunswick Heads is at or near capacity currently, with capacity set to be exceeded within a few years; so we can either wait until the problem gets worse, or put the program in place now – with an added bonus of raising many hundreds of thousands of dollars from daytrippers to put back into Brunswick Heads to go towards better footpaths, roads, parks, more trees and playgrounds and the like.
Bruns unfairly targeted
Business owner Michelle Begg attended Thursday’s meeting and said, ‘I was shocked when our mayor, Cr Richardson, suddenly moved a motion to introduce paid parking to Brunswick Heads before Christmas’.
‘We feel that Brunswick Heads is being unfairly targeted,’ she said.
‘We are wondering what is behind this push to impose paid parking on our village, when 6,240 petition signatories were against it in 2017, and the experts confirmed once again in 2019 that paid parking is not warranted?
‘This looks like a money-grabbing exercise, with no consideration for the impact this will have on local customers and businesses, especially during our many low-trade months.’