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Byron Shire
June 15, 2021

Bruns chamber rejects mayor’s paid parking rhetoric

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Should parking meters be installed in Brunswick Heads? Image: Newcastle Herald.

Further to last week’s Echo story on Brunswick Heads paid parking, the town’s chamber treasurer, Kim Rosen, clarified that she is not the president.

Further, Mrs Rosen said workshops were only held between the consultants and Council, ‘certainly not with stakeholders’.

She also refuted the mayor’s ‘sweeping statements’ that Council has done everything the Brunswick Heads Chamber asked for.

She said, ‘Yes, the Chamber had every right to ask Council to undertake an Economic Assessment. Especially as the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) required Council to consider any impacts of paid parking on businesses and visitors, and residents also’.

‘94.4 per cent of businesses in the CBD are worried that paid parking will impact their business. They have very good reason. One current Brunswick Heads business owner lost his previous job when paid parking came to Byron Bay. Another Brunswick Heads business owner saw a 35 per cent downturn in trade for his Byron Bay business. Data elsewhere backs up these impacts. Loss of trade equals loss of jobs for locals.

‘No, the only workshops held were between the consultants and Council, certainly not with stakeholders.

‘Yes, the Chamber asked for additional data and so did the TPS consultants. Both of us wanted data for the zones just outside the proposed metered area next to where paid parking was being considered. That’s because anywhere there’s an edge there will be issues, and residents need to be aware that parking spaces outside their homes could be taken up by day trippers avoiding the meters.”

‘The community has a right to consistent methodology and accurate data. This is not what we have had. At the February 27 Council meeting, Cr Cameron said, “Get the data and make sure you analyse it properly. Make sure that data stands up to scrutiny”. We couldn’t agree more’.

According to the No Paid Parking Group, the data provided in the EthosUrban Economic Assessment doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. ‘We can cite many examples of inaccuracies, omissions and opinions that were passed off as data’.

‘Council asked the Economic Assessment to provide details of the number of visitors versus locals. They didn’t’.

‘The percentage of day trippers is crucial because they are the ones who would be feeding the meters. Last year the Mayor said there were 3,000 day trippers per day in Brunswick Heads, now he says it’s thousands of day trippers on busy days. The truth is he doesn’t actually know how many day trippers there are. No-one does, as there is no definitive data as yet. Council won’t make anywhere near as much money from paid parking as they think they will. We are not Byron Bay!.

‘The off-the-charts demand/capacity figures of 349 per cent , 666.3 per cent and even 1383.9 per cent one Sunday in September are just not believable, especially when you compare them with the TPS figures provided only nine months earlier. Besides, high capacity is no problem when the turnover is good.

‘We know from the Chamber’s COVID Impact Survey of 110 businesses (with 56 respondents) that about 250 employees are on JobKeeper. Businesses are facing “the cliff” on 30 September when JobKeeper finishes up. If businesses have to shed staff to survive, even more locals will be out of a job.

‘It’s a time for compassion, not for delivering yet another blow to our small business sector and our community who are very nervous about the future.”

‘Yet Crs Richardson, Martin and Ndiaye are certain that paid parking will have no impact on businesses or the community. How do they know?

‘No-one knows with any certainty what the next year will bring’.

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  1. Ms Rosen talks about misinformation from council, dodgy reports and councilors having no idea of the real impacts of paid parking due to lack of data. However she is confident in predicting mass business closures, 35% drops in takings and that council “won’t make anywhere near as much money from paid parking as they think they will”.The Mayor and most councilors have read all the data and reports (that cost a good deal of ratepayers money) and believe paid parking will benefit the Shire. The Mayor has even stated that if paid parking does prove to cause serious financial impacts on businesses then they will be limited in use or even removed. Everyone is sick and tired of hearing all these claims and counter claims so the only way to go is to try it. From what I understand the metres are already paid for and sitting in storage ready to go. Due to the huge numbers of people now flocking to Brunswick I don’t think there will be any impact on businesses and ratepayers will greatly benefit from the hundreds of thousands of dollars sourced from tourists to help our infrastructure costs. But that’s my opinion and as Ms Rosen says, “nobody knows”, The only way forward is to try it.

  2. Well said!
    Let’s hope that our Councillors vote to overturn the Green’s rescission motion and honour their 25 June vote to defer paid parking in our small town until August 2021.
    Valerie Hardy.

  3. Paid parking in Byron has not been the catastrophe predicted by businesses. It certainly hasn’t deterred visitors, who are still crowding the town-even in the middle of winter during the pandemic. Many ignore social distancing, putting the health of locals at risk..

    It’s time residents were listened to for a change and maybe get a fair go-perhaps even be able to park in the town over the holidays. Most residents will be exempt from paid parking, but you’d never know that listening to the hysteria of the business lobby.

  4. Why should Brunswick Heads’ village atmosphere be spoiled with unattractive meters in order to cover Council’s financial losses? They need to find a fairer way to collect revenue from tourists across the whole Shire.
    Yes, Bruns gets busy but so does every other small village on the coast.

  5. Paid parking is worldwide for goodness sake,
    Up the fee and give locals a parking permit like Council does.
    People can’t get enough of Byron, Brunswick anywhere near ocean. Overseas travel is not going to change overnight so people are flocking to areas like Brunswick for a day, holiday and to spend money.
    We are virtually offering a holiday for free otherwise and limiting the turnover which translates to business and fairness.
    The issue of parking in resident’s streets is valid however this can be overcome by requiring rates notices otherwise a parking ticket. This should be the same paid parking as it is anywhere else in the world. Paid parking importantly allows parking spots to be turned over so new people come. This is fair and equitable.

  6. Just because Simon says doesn’t make it so. How many times does the same person say paid parking won’t deter visitors and in the next breath say ‘at least I will get a park’. Leave Bruns alone it is hard enough with all the waves of covid.

  7. I travel this inland towns Inverell , Glen Innes, Tenterfield – no paid parking, relaxed country vibe, excellent traveller facilities, clean modern toilets, neat gardens good roads, small rate based. Why cannot our Council provide quality services without levying another tax? Bruns values it’s low key vibe, that has been well communicated to us all. Let Bruns people determine what they want for their town – they don’t want everything monetised- I get that. Council do a better job! Manage you finances – others can do it without paid parking in small villages.

  8. Thank you Paul! What a novel idea letting a town decide what they want. I bet there is lots of fat to be trimmed in other budget areas.

  9. The point is: Visitors are still flocking to Byron and paying for parking. As they do on the Sunshine Coast and other popular holiday areas. This means locals can park and shop more in town than they used to.

    Without paid parking, the only way Byron Council will have the funds to provide quality services/maintain local roads, is to charge 15,000 ratepayers more to provide services/infrastructure for two + million visitors.

    It’s not a few locals who are taking up all the parking in our towns, despite paying some of the highest rates in the region, but few of the signatures on No Paid Parking petitions are from Brunswick/Byron Shire residents.

    It was locals who went out of their way to support local businesses during lockdown when there were no tourists around-time for some consideration from those businesses please.

  10. I often wondered this as well when visiting other rural areas with very tidy streets and good roads. A Councillor explained to me that the majority of Byron Shires expenditure went on road maintenance and that our Shire had a huge amount of roads to maintain compared to most rural Shires. Many of these hinterland roads are in hilly areas are are prone to landslides and erosion due to our wetter climate. Many are also flood prone and need a rebuild every couple of years. Apart from that is the wear and tear from use. Over 2 million tourists (plus locals) drive around our roads every year were the Inverell to Glen Innes road probably gets less than 5% of that. Roads are also categorized according to their “use” so many of the roads out west, being main transport links are maintained from the State budget and not from local council. Fundamentally our ratepayer base cant afford the huge amount of money required to maintain our heavily trafficked roads. So here’s an novel idea. As the majority of traffic is tourist related and locals are already paying, lets bring in parking meetings so tourists contribute to fixing the roads and all the other local infrastructure they continually complain about.

  11. Yes let the town decide and that means residents and not just the businesses. The selfish scare campaign by the Chamber is depriving local residents of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue a year. From my understanding Ms Rosen doesn’t actually live in Brunswick Heads anymore. For transparency, it is important that people are aware that the biggest voice against paid parking in Brunswick Heads doesn’t even live in the town. I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I am wrong. Thanks, Just try it

  12. Bruns is not Byron Louise. And how do you know how many petitioners were locals vs visitors from outside the shire? Check your facts first before u, whoever you are, decide on what is the best for Bruns.

  13. Like Louise I also browse the no paid parking petitions scattered around town and am always bemused to see the vast majority of those that sign (and add their address) are from outside the Shire. Is this really surprising? By the way Cherie, (who I assume is Cherie from the tourist centre), do you live in Brunswick Heads?

  14. Yes I am. Not sure what your point is? This actually allows me access to facts, not conjecture or casually browsing a petition. Most residents don’t have the info unless they want to dig deep. They have to rely on their elected council to do what is best, unfortunately. And yes I am a resident. You? The councils own survey of residents, flawed as it was, had a 60 percent no paid parking from residents. That was when the council said 100% would go back to bruns infrastructure. Now it’s only 50%. It’s time they let it go.

  15. Byron Shire residents are well informed and do their research. They have watched Byron, a beautiful town where once everyone knew each other and you could safely walk the streets day or night, being destroyed by greed. They’ve seen so many businesses, which were owned by locals and served locals, disappear. Businesses are now focused on the tourist dollar to the detriment of local amenity and quality of life, and many don’t want to see it happening again.

    As we’re seeing, turning butchers, hardware stores and banks et al, which provided for locals, into even more coffee shops/cafes, is not that flash in times of disaster. Having so many businesses competing in the same market for limited dollars, is hard enough in the good times. Perhaps the Brunswick Chamber and Council need to focus on encouraging some economic diversity in the town, and businesses that have more chance of surviving through difficult times.

    Again, paid parking hasn’t deterred tourists in Byron. Businesses are quick to demand facilities for tourists be maintained/upgraded but 15,000 ratepayers cannot keep paying more to provide/maintain infrastructure for two million + tourists.

  16. Cherie, are you a Brunswick Heads resident or Shire resident? Makes a big difference as your comments give the impression you are the “voice of Bruns” and all Brunswick locals are against paid parking. Running the towns Tourist center does not make you the residents spokesperson, far from it. I am a long time Brunswick local and most locals I talk to are all for extra revenue via paid parking. Main concern from those against is more traffic in their residential streets. Unfortunately that is already happening and will get worse with or without paid parking. Sad fact is Brunswick is quickly becoming a mini Byron and with all the associated negative impacts on residents. We need to keep reminding tourists that Brunswick is our home and not just another tourist venue to be exploited. Paid parking is a good first step.

  17. PS: Perhaps Brunswick Chamber of Commerce need to have spokespeople who can respectfully engage in genuine debate, actually listen to and take on board others point of view, and make a point without insulting residents/customers.

  18. Always happy for debate. If u have facts on byron would love to hear them. Seems no one wants to talk though just conjecture. Including council.


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