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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Paid parking: ‘We need our council to work with us, not against us’

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They are suspending the use of parking meters in Double Bay and getting ready to install them in Brunswick Heads.

There has been a lot of speculation in recent months about the future of trade in Brunswick Heads – for example it has been suggested that there will be an economic upturn in spring, enough to validate the installation of parking meters in the town.

Even if those theories were true, the resurgence of COVID-19 is having a severe impact on small businesses’ confidence and the Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce says it’s hard to see any return in confidence until the curve in Victoria is flattened and any hotspots in NSW are controlled.

220 jobs lost

Spokesperson for the No Paid Parking Group, Kim Rosen, said that their own COVID Impact survey in June showed 220 jobs were lost and that nearly half of Brunswick Heads businesses thought that it would take at least a year to recover from the coronavirus impacts. ‘Now it could be even longer, and some businesses may not survive a second wave.’

‘With 66% of our businesses relying on the JobKeeper lifeline, the situation in Brunswick Heads is even worse. Simon Richardson has said the pandemic has delivered a “triple whammy” and that it’s really dangerous times for us.

‘We agree! The upcoming reduction in JobKeeper payments and the possibility of a second wave is uppermost in our businesses’ minds. So how could our mayor even contemplate adding further stress by pushing for paid parking in Bruns before Christmas?’

Research commissioned by the Tourism and Transport Forum

Ms Rosen said that, according to research commissioned by the Tourism and Transport Forum and presented to the COVID-19 Commission, without JobKeeper there was a risk that many small and medium-sized tourism, transport and hospitality businesses may potentially close for good because they are not viable at 30-45 per cent of their typical demand.

‘Byron Bay’s Mercato shopping centre has stopped charging for parking to support its retailers’, she said.

‘Parking meters were switched off by the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast councils. Gold Coast CEO, Dale Dickson, said their move was part of an effort to support local business and employees.

‘Both Woollahra and Waverly councils have also turned off their parking meters as part of their relief and recovery packages to support businesses.

Double Bay’s meters show Woollahra’s commitment to softening the economic impact

‘The signage on Double Bay’s parking meters shows Woollahra’s commitment to softening the economic impact of the crisis on local businesses and helping businesses remain viable.’

Ms Rosen said that the Brunswick Heads Chamber agrees and has been very proactive since the start of the pandemic rolling out a series of initiatives to help Bruns businesses stay afloat. These include the daily updated ‘Bruns doing Business’ lists, free social media upgrade training sessions and a Buy Local Campaign. Due to a possible second wave, the All-Town Clearance Sale had to be moved from August to October.

‘We need our council to work with us, not against us,’ said Ms Rosen. ‘We want them to take note of the other councils who, by turning off their parking meters, have clearly shown that they care about businesses and their employees.’

‘The No Paid Parking Group is therefore calling for the mayor to withdraw his rescission motion, which is due to be considered at the August 27 meeting.

‘Our businesses don’t need this added pressure right now. Please withdraw your rescission motion and support the unanimous June 25 resolution to take paid parking discussion off the table until next year, so that our businesses can focus on surviving the pandemic and recovering from its impacts.’

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  1. At least we can get a parking space in Bruns these days! I think once locals, from surrounding towns, realise this they will come back to Brunswick Heads. It may become a hangout for locals once again instead of these tourists you are missing so badly.

  2. Those against paid parking (PP) have their heads in the sand. PP saved Byron residents from the “over tourism” resultant of car parks being filled day & night by out of of towners. Forget about parking for 30 mins for groceries, or coffee. Despite PP in Byron, traffic continues to be an issue in busy periods. Bruns is heading the same way.
    The dreaded traffic light option is not far from becoming reality in Byron to help manage pedestrian/car interface. Ballina has traffic lights and somehow manages to survive and we all know that the by-pass is a bandaid.
    Come on BSC, let’s get serious about managing the Shire’s future for the benefit of locals and visitors alike.

  3. For many of the short ‘just going up the street’ trips, the humble bicycle, with rear basket [and or front basket]; goes a long way to reducing town gridlock. You can get trikes that will fit a weeks groceries, cargo bikes, e bikes etc… These ‘utilitarian vehicles’ consume minimal parking footprint compared to cars, with the added bonus of healthy outdoor exercise & reduction in CO2 and vehicle costs. Triple win!!

  4. Retail businesses aren’t the only ones who have suffered due to COVID. Byron council recently reported they too were down millions of dollars due to the pandemic so someones going to have to make up that shortfall as well. The accommodation sector has been dealt a massive blow as I’m sure the vast majority of businesses from doctors surgeries to gyms has. I’m down about $35,000 from a rental property and lost work so my council rates are really hurting. Byron Council needs to balance its books and cover its COVID losses and I’d much rather the shortfall come from cashed up tourists than struggling locals. Parking metres will go a long way in contributing to Councils (our) losses by getting the hordes of tourists to contribute to our worn infrastructure. The Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce is deluded if it thinks they will all go broke due to paid parking. The masses who fill the town from the Gold Coast and Brisbane are used to parking metres and couldn’t give a rats. A visiting couple will spend $50 on petrol and another $60 on lunch and a few drinks at the pub so a few dollars extra to park won’t see them head Ocean Shores instead!!! (though if it does, great, spread the dollars). It is a very simple argument, Byron Shire has huge infrastructure costs and many are tourist related. The tourists either contribute via paid parking or the ratepayers continue to pay ever increasing rates. By getting tourists to contribute Council is 100% supporting residents. The Chamber is denying locals hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in revenue so it seems only fair that CBD businesses rates should increase if the Chamber continues to divert this prospective money away from councils coffers.


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