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.’