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Byron Shire
April 24, 2024

Free locals parking on its way

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A majority of Byron councillors have reiterated their commitment to make parking permits free for locals across the Shire when paid parking comes into force in Brunswick Heads, despite some asserting that the move is ‘completely fiscally irresponsible’.

Endorsed by Council in December last year, the pay parking scheme will see more than a dozen parking meters installed in the centre of Bruns, as well as in the parking zones running parallel to the beach.

When originally passed by Council, the new policy included a clause stating that all locals would be entitled to a free parking permit, rather than paying the current $55 annual fee.

This would essentially mean that locals could park for free anywhere in the Shire, assuming they met the criteria to obtain a permit.

Council staff opposed 

But Council staff opposed this clause, arguing that it would produce a flood of parking permit applications which staff will be unable to handle, exacerbate existing traffic and parking issues, and cost Council up to $1 million in lost revenue and administrative costs.

However, after a lengthy and impassioned debate at last week’s Council meeting, a majority of councillors voted to reiterate their support for the free permit clause.

Mayor Michael Lyon continued his support for the move, describing it as an ‘equity issue’.

‘You shouldn’t have to pay just to go shopping in your own town,’ Cr Lyon said.

‘Everyone still has to drive if they want to go shopping in our towns, because there is no viable public transport alternative’. 

Cr Lyon said that free parking permits for locals would be good for local business, because it would encourage more people to go shopping, and that the scheme would still net the Shire around $12 million over five years.

Three Crs against

But three councillors, Sarah Ndiaye (Greens Deputy Mayor), Mark Swivel (Independent) and Cate Coorey (Independent) opposed the free permit clause. 

‘To me it seems completely fiscally irresponsible,’ Cr Ndiaye said.

‘We’re not just moving away from residents paying for parking, we’re moving to a place where we’re putting the cost onto the visitor to subsidise residents’ parking.

‘And this is going to cost us a million dollars a year. 

‘I think if [local] people actually understood the mathematics of it they would get on board. The actual cost of a permit – $1 a week to utilise parking anywhere in the Shire, is very little.

‘It doesn’t make sense.’

But Cr Ndiaye was unable to change the minds of the majority of her fellow councillors, with six councillors voting in favour and three against.

Councillors also voted to set a $5 per hour rate for the parking meters in Brunswick Heads, and to charge this fee via a combination of existing cash meters, pay-by-plate cashless parking meters, and other options including phone apps.

Further investigation will be undertaken to discuss how the funds could be distributed in Brunswick Heads and the Shire.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. As if it’s not bad enough having our towns chock-a-block with the monster SUVs of 2.5 millions visitors, being asked to pay for a park in your own town-if you can find one-is beyond the pail.

    If they really want to solve the problem of traffic and parking ALL OUR COUNCILLORS need to support the local community and DEMAND the state government provide the train services needed and promised. Stop allowing them to cost shift this problem onto ratepayers, who already pay some of the highest rates in the country. Ripping up a valuable train line in a region with twice as many visitors as the Tweed LGA with three times the population, for a bke track costing taxpayers almost as much as getting the trains running, is beyong ridiculous.

    Some towns-Byron, Mullum and Bangalow-have a train station in the centre within easy walking distance to everything!!!

    It’s pretty obvious to most locals that no matter how much is charged for parking there’s not enough room in our towns to fit all the monster vehicles people insist on driving. At the very least they should pay twice as much for parking.

    Never mind the massive emissions contributing to global warming!!!

  2. This is so disappointing to anyone who is a local outside the byron LGA. This is why people park anywhere and everywhere in byron now away from parking metres and the same thing will happen in bruns. It is unfair to our region to be charged to access our beaches just because you live in ballina or lismore LGA. It just keeps away locals which is sad for community spirit.

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