Emotions ‘run high’ at meeting
A final decision on Bunbury’s parking strategy was met with anger on Tuesday night when retailers and one angry resident lashed out at Bunbury City Council.
After four deputations from emotional business owners and more than 30 minutes of debate, the council voted in favour of keeping two-hour free on-street parking and for parking meters to remain in place.
The 7-4 vote came despite a petition being tabled with 4440 signatures asking the council to remove the meters.
Retailers responded in anger during the council’s meeting where in a packed public gallery comments were yelled at elected members.
One frustrated resident – who did not want to be named and is understood to live outside of Bunbury – let her frustrations known when she lashed out at Mayor Gary Brennan and the council.
“You sit there and you think that you know everything, but you get free parking down stairs and you probably go off to Bunbury Forum to do your shopping,” the woman said pointing at Mr Brennan.
Mr Brennan tried to interject saying “this is a chamber where we show respect” but his comments were met with anger from retailers.
“I’m showing respect . . . You need to listen, it’s a democratic society and you need to think about that,” the woman said.
The city’s paid parking debate has lingered for several years and reached boiling point last year when retailers successfully lobbied the council to trial free ticketed parking.
A massive community engagement project showed of the 1788 people who took part, 46.6 per cent wanted the parking arrangements to stay as they were and 35.8 per cent wanted meters removed and on-street parking to be free.
Mr Brennan told the South Western Times he did not want to provide much further comment on Tuesday night’s incident and said it was now time to move on and the council had listened to both sides of the argument. “Emotions run high,” Mr Brennan said.
“I spoke to that lady after the meeting, we had a good chat and I explained the process we go through which is not easily understood by people who aren’t familiar with local government meeting procedures.
“People who wanted the parking meters removed, they are saying that we’re not listening but we are listening to the majority of our community who elect us to represent the whole of Bunbury not just a handful of people.”