Yesterday’s Ballina Shire Council meeting saw councillors raise the spectre of paid parking at Lennox Head, and possibly elsewhere in the shire.
During a discussion about fees and charges, Cr Nathan Willis began musing on the lack of prospective earnings for the future, despite all the extra ratepayers flooding into Ballina and surrounds. Was it time to consider a report looking at the possibility pay parking in Lennox Head, he wondered?
After a few nervous moments, Cr Eoin Johnston said he would second this. ‘Very brave!’ responded Mayor David Wright.
Cr Willis said that while he understood the issue might be sensitive for people from wards, Ballina Council needed to govern for the whole shire. ‘There just isn’t the money to do everything we want to do. This is something we need to think about.
‘We may need to have resident’s stickers, like Byron or the ferry,’ he said. ‘This could assist us with revenue in a fair and equitable way across the shire.’
World War III?
Cr Ben Smith spoke against the idea, saying it was going to make a lot of people ‘really angry’ and ‘won’t really help,’ although he acknowledged Lennox Head was going through some growing pains.
Cr Smith said the idea would only have any chance if locals were exempt. ‘We’ll have thousands of people rioting on the streets and World War III otherwise.’
Cr Steve McCarthy wondered if the Lennox Chamber of Commerce would get a fair say in this, noting they were already dealing with ‘Epiq against the main street’. GM Paul Hickey said Brad Pollard was probably already writing a letter as they spoke.
Cr Keith Williams said he wouldn’t support the idea because it was tied to Lennox Head and not to overall parking issues throughout the shire. ‘If you change the wording I might think about it,’ he said.
Cr Eoin Johnston argued that Lennox Head was a special case because of the remodelling that was taking place anyway, or as he put it, ‘because we’re going to rip up the whole of Lennox in the next couple of years. Let’s just have a report on it.
‘Lennox is having exponential growth,’ he continued. ‘It is Byron-lite. I call it South Byron. Very busy, and they don’t want people parked there for three or four hours while they go to a surf or see a show.’
Don’t be like Byron
Mayor David Wright said he didn’t support paid parking ‘because it’s a marketing thing we’ve got over Byron Bay.’
Deputy Mayor Sharon Cadwallader spoke fervently against the paid parking idea. ‘You want another report? We’ve already had reports in Village Vision.
‘This is about taking money from people for parking. I don’t think we need to go down that track, I really don’t.
‘I don’t think we need to do this at a time when businesses are trying to come out of COVID,’ she said. ‘Not whacking paid parking on them when people would be deterred, they’re already competing with Epiq.
‘If anything we should be looking at electric driverless vehicles or other park and ride initiatives to get people in and out across the shire. I can’t support this in a million years,’ said Cr Cadwallader.
Cr Jeff Johnson said he wouldn’t be supporting the motion either. ‘Nathan is just stirring the pot here.’
In the end, the motion for a report into paid parking at Lennox was carried, with Crs Meehan, Johnson, Williams and Cadwallader voting against. Cr Sharon Parry was an apology from the meeting.
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