Con­tro­ver­sial fees put un­der mi­cro­scope

The Weekend Post - - Front Page - CHRIS CALCINO [email protected]

SUN­DAY park­ing fees are fi­nally un­der re­view after an out­cry from busi­nesses try­ing and fail­ing to make an hon­est buck in a week­end waste­land.

The in­tro­duc­tion of paid week­end park­ing has been one of this Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil’s most con­tro­ver­sial poli­cies to date with shop own­ers cry­ing foul about a cus­tomer ex­o­dus from the city cen­tre.

The coun­cil has now or­dered a study to com­pare cur­rent Sun­day vis­i­ta­tion to num­bers be­fore paid week­end park­ing was in­tro­duced at the start of the year.

In call­ing for the re­view, Di­vi­sion 5 Cr Richie Bates said he had been bom­barded with com­plaints from CBD busi­ness­peo­ple.

He also called for num­bers on how much rev­enue the coun­cil had made through week­end park­ing fees and fines.

Mayor Bob Man­ning said the ap­praisal would be­gin early next year.

“All coun­cil­lors will agree that, whether we think we’re right or we’re not right, it’s just not click­ing with the pub­lic,” he said. “I know there’s a plan. “But some­times, plans are able to be un­der­mined in some way.

“We’re cer­tainly not hit­ting the right spot with our ratepay­ers on this at the mo­ment.”

Cairns Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Nick Loukas said no other sin­gle is­sue drew as much dis­sat­is­fac­tion from lo­cal traders.

“There’s some dis­agree­ment, even within the cham­ber, about the ben­e­fits of paid week­end park­ing,” he said.

“I’m ac­tu­ally for it, oth­ers are against.

“What we all agree on is there needs to be a fresh look at it.

“The amount of com­plaints we get is just ex­tra­or­di­nary.”

Mr Loukas stopped short of call­ing for the re­turn of the heady old days of park­ing an­ar­chy, when week­end drunks dumped their cars in town for days with­out fear of fi­nan­cial reprisal.

He sug­gested some mid­dle ground could be found – per­haps mak­ing the first two hours free, then polic­ing the re­stric­tions with an iron fist.

The con­fu­sion be­tween one-hour parks, two-hour parks and three-hour parks was also sore point.

“I’m not ad­vo­cat­ing there shouldn’t be any free park­ing,” he said.

“But we’re not get­ting the turnover, there’s not the in­cen- tive for peo­ple to stay in town long enough.

“It just needs a fresh ap­proach.”

CBRE Cairns di­rec­tor Danny Bet­ros will rep­re­sent the cham­ber in dis­cus­sions with the coun­cil.

Cr Man­ning said the first step was to get a clear pic­ture of the is­sue.

“We’ll get the data, we’ll get the right data, and we’ll work off that,” he said.


NICE PITCH: Mu­sic City man­ager Ka­t­rina Humphrey with a park­ing ticket. The Sheri­dan St shop deducts the cost of park­ing from pur­chases at the store.

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