With Council’s push for paid parking on Brunswick Heads, the town’s business chamber are ramping up their opposition. They claim it is ‘neither needed or wanted’, and ‘not compatible with our Simple Pleasures village ethos’.
Chamber president, Juliana Harmsen, said, ‘Council agreed at its meeting on June 27 last year to undertake an economic assessment of the town and its small businesses, as required by the RMS guidelines, and requested by the Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce.
‘The Council also resolved to undertake more extensive data collection and bring reports back to Council in May.
‘We have always strongly believed that our small businesses will be adversely impacted by paid parking, and the employment sector will be hit hard, so we welcomed the economic assessment.
‘The Yarraville Village experience showed there were five to 40 per cent losses in trade when they introduced paid parking, and it is likely the same will happen in Bruns’, said Ms Harmsen.
‘With all the data collected from our business surveys (undertaken every three years), and frequent personal contact with our business community, the chamber understands the Bruns economy’, she said.
Ms Harmsen says the chamber wrote to Council in April, requesting that the Bruns parking management issue be taken off the table until late next year, because of the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and the cancellation of Bluesfest and Splendour.
Kim Rosen, chair of the Chamber’s No Paid Parking Committee, said, ‘We can’t understand how Council could even think of trying to force paid parking on us again this year!
‘The possible implementation of paid parking, even periodic paid parking, is the last thing our devastated small businesses need to worry about at this time’, said Mrs Rosen.
‘Everyone’s focus is on survival and recovery, and that could take well over a year.
‘Unfortunately, the Chamber’s request was denied, and the item is coming to a Council meeting soon.
‘The staff will make a recommendation to Council, based on the economic assessment by EthosUrban, an Intercept Study, and a report on turnover and infringement levels’.
However, the No Paid Parking Committee say they are unhappy with the quality of the EthosUrban Report.
They say that many of its findings and conclusions are based on opinions and generalisations, and that some of the data does not stand up to scrutiny.
Mrs Rosen claims there was little ground-truthing that took place in the EthosUrban Report.
‘The consultant was advised by Council of “traffic congestion or traffic issues,” despite this not being true (except on Twilight Market night and Old & Gold).
‘It was repeated no less than 13 times throughout the Report, as if it were a fact!’ she said.
‘The consultant was only in town for a couple of days, and only spoke to a few businesses. Only two other stakeholders, both of whom have no knowledge of the town’s economy or the number of visitors versus locals, were spoken to, and that was by phone,’ Mrs Rosen said.
Mrs Rosen said that Yarraville Village in Victoria, which had parking meters installed and then removed because of the outcry, was discounted by EthosUrban as a useful comparison because there were five differences between Yarraville and Brunswick Heads.
‘Funnily enough, there were also ten similarities between Yarraville and Bruns, according to the comprehensive 2016 Au and Young Study undertaken’, she said.
Chamber president, Juliana Harmsen added that the ‘need for revenue’ was a strong theme in the initial briefing document.
Mayor Simon Richardson (Greens) was asked if he agreed that paid parking in the town should be delayed owing to COVID-19, but there was no reply by deadline.