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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Bruns paid parking shelved; mayor ‘staggered’

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Paul Bibby

The attempt by a group of Byron councillors to put paid parking in Brunswick Heads back on Council’s agenda has been thwarted by a dramatic backflip from Deputy Mayor Sarah Ndiaye.

In a move which Greens Mayor Simon Richardson described as ‘staggering,’ Cr Ndiaye moved a last-minute amendment at last week’s Council meeting to put off any consideration of paid parking until March 2022.

The motion passed by five votes to four, consigning the installation of parking meters in

Byron’s Deputy Mayor Sarah Ndiaye. Photo David Hancock

the town to a dusty bottom drawer that won’t be opened until well into the next term of Council.

‘I’m deeply uncomfortable with all of this and I’m especially uncomfortable with aligning myself with the arguments that have been put forward against paid parking,’ Cr Ndiaye said, adding that those opposing paid parking had engaged in ‘hysteria’.

‘My favourite place to stop off and get a coffee [in Brunswick Heads] – I haven’t been stopping off there because I haven’t been able to get a park…’

‘[But] there have been 210 jobs lost in that town. JobKeeper will end in March. People’s pockets won’t have that extra bit of cash, and rather than put that huge stress on, I can see the benefit of just resting it on the table.

‘I don’t see the benefit outweighing the risk right now.’

Earlier Cr Richardson had spoken strongly in support of reviving the paid parking plan.

Together with his Greens colleagues (including Cr Ndiaye), and Independent councillor Cate Coorey, he moved to rescind a motion from the last full meeting in June, which would have deferred debate on paid parking until October 2021.

This would have made paid parking a highly-politicised issue in the 2021 Council elections.

Having successfully rescinded that motion, Cr Richardson then moved an alternative motion to put the issue back on the agenda, with an eye to introducing parking meters in time for this Christmas.

News of the rescission motion had caused great anger among members of the Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce, who said that introducing parking meters in the town this summer would push some businesses ‘over the edge’.

But the attempt to make paid parking a priority was scuttled when Cr Ndiaye suddenly switched from supporting that motion.

Cr Richardson said he was ‘flummoxed’ by his colleague’s backflip.

‘We heard [from Cr Ndiaye] that most of the arguments against paid parking were “hysteria”, and we heard that she doesn’t go there [to Brunswick Heads] because she can’t get a park…’ Cr Richardson said.

Hard to reconcile 

‘It’s hard to reconcile the speech with what’s occurring … it’s staggering.’

Earlier, the meeting was treated to a reprisal of the arguments for and against paid parking that have been chewed over by Council numerous times during the course of the past four years.

One refreshing contribution came in the form of a speech against the proposal by the owner of the Happy Dolphin cafe, Garry Della.

Experienced disaster after distaster

‘This past year we’ve experienced unprecedented disaster after disaster,’ Mr Della said.

‘We’re scared and we’re very tired and we’re relying on JobKeeper to stay open.’

Cr Richardson acknowledged that the businesses of Brunswick Heads were opposed to paid parking, but said he was ‘absolutely content that the wider community want it’.

‘We all love and care for Brunswick Heads,’ Cr Richardson said.

‘We know that when traffic [to and from Queensland] is allowed down that highway again, Brunswick Heads is going to heave again.

‘We know that small coastal places will feel the pick-up quicker than everyone else, because that’s where everyone wants to go.

‘This needs to happen, and if we defer it, all we’re doing is kicking the can down the road for the next Council.’


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13 COMMENTS

  1. Shame!
    Now your business will be excluded from trade because people will park outside your shop for most of the day, not just for a limited period.
    Try getting a park in Byron Bay, even with paid parking.
    Council needs to consider the bigger picture of managing “over tourism”, not just micro issues such as this.
    The writing is on the wall, people are relocating to our shire in droves from major centres and holiday makers/ day trippers will be back as soon as “Anastasia’s wall”, is lifted.

  2. Businesses in Brunswick Heads should consider all the locals that put off or just stop going to Bruns because of driving round and round the block for a park.
    Moreover going to the beach is just not an option in the summer months now due to the parking situation.
    Maybe businesses and the council need to start prioritising locals over tourists. Now that would be a great change!

  3. Paid parking has nothing to do with helping the town. What BS. It’s about Council helping itself and it’s bottom line. Paid parking pillages the villages.Those villages are not going to see foreign tourists for a long time. No wonder the businesses are angry. I stopped going to Byron when paid parking started and haven’t returned and I live here.

  4. Why is it so difficult for some people to understand that paid parking is a benefit to the local community. Fundamentally paid parking means tourists and visitors to our village and shire help contribute to the large costs associated with having more than 2 million visitors in our shire each year. To the Brunswick locals who are celebrating, go have a look at your new rates bill that has gone up around $500 pa. If you’re renting get ready for a rent rise to cover your landlords rates increase. Councillors had the chance to gain millions in revenue from tourists through additional paid parking in the shire. They let the opportunity go so local residents will now continue to subsidize all the cashed up tourists (who charge us to park when we go to their towns) for a few more years.

    • Sean,
      Have you not heard about COVID-19 because the tourists have and there are no tourists coming over the border.
      It is the locals paying the paid parking.

  5. What percentage of the money from parking meters in Byron, actually goes to Byron council? My guess is 40%. And where does the rest go?

  6. $55 buys a shire resident an annual paid-parking pass. Doesn’t take long at all to rack up $55 in meter costs. That said, I do believe these permits should be free to residents.

  7. Well Sean , lets kill the golden goose to fund our councils need for electronic toilets that lack seating numbers and one way street experiments that don’t work. Lets have more of that financial waste.More money for council doesn’t guarantee it’s spent wisely. In fact it encourages wasteful stupid ideas.You clearly have no idea how government departments work.! Oh and those cashed up tourists don’t have to come here to be ripped off , they can go somewhere else, and will if you make it blatant. I hear Yamba’s nice !

  8. What is the real reason for Cr Ndiaye doing a massive “backflip”? Interesting that she is one of 2 Greens councilors, out of 4 currently serving. who have put themselves up for election nect year. Lyon is way down the list, being on the nose with fellow local Greens, and is unlikely to be elected. Is it just a stunt for re-election? This issue has been going on for too long. Eventually, there will be Brunz, and Bangalow, paid parking.

  9. Combination of paid parking and increased bicycle infrastructure is the only way for for our over-touristed small towns. The proliferation of e-bikes is increasing the amount of people who could get around on 2 wheels exponentially. We need to move with the times and create healthy communities and decrease the amount of disgusting cars in our small communities (Brunswick on a sunny weekend feels more like a parking lot than the beautiful coastal village it is) . Let QLD visitors pay to park while creating safe ways for locals to move around freely. And yes, the rail trail link from Bangalow- Byron-Mullum that byron council seems intent on stagnating would be a huge help!

  10. It’s so ridiculous that people whinge about having to park away from the town centre of Bruns and walk a bit to their destination. For goodness sakes it’s a small town and you will never have to walk any longer than 10 minutes to go anywhere there. I live in Ocean Shores and I’ve been going to Bruns for years. I’ve never once not got a park somewhere there. Leave our town alone, we do not want or need to pay parking fees. Any average weekday you can go there and it’s almost vacant. Only on the weekends etc are there crowds and not huge crowds at that. People who live here are average income earners and not need the extra stress of paying for parking in our own town. We do not want to pay for parking only to have our hard earned tax dollars wasted on exercise stops like at Wategos or ridiculous toilet blocks or any of the bells and whistles that council have thrust upon us.

  11. What Shopping Centre in the shire has paid parking for up to 2 hours? Probably not one! Why? Because customers reject it. Do this to Bruns and the same will happen, and small business will suffer. Get it in your head Council that this will hurt business and jobs. Put time limits on parking and apply fines so that car parks turn over and all day parking is discouraged.

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