Letters to the editor

November 29, 2017

Parking dilemma

- Norm Sims, Shepparton

Make no mistake about it, a parking tax is having a major contributing effect in the decline in the Shepparton central business district retail as claimed by Cr Shelley Sutton (News, November 23). It has little support from the public.

The News’ online poll (November 24) showed 97 per cent against parking tax and three per cent in favour.

One reader claimed the parking tax is a ‘‘huge barrier to shopping locally’’.

It is obvious the capital costs, the labour costs, the collection costs and damage caused to businesses does not justify the tax. It is doing more harm than good.

A new councillor gets elected to council on a platform of the abolition parking meters (she was out with an angle grinder in her advertising), gets no support, but was frustrated by her fellow councillors when she put her proposal forward.

Cr Sutton claimed CBD retail was in decline and parking meters were a factor.

In denying her claims, they are not convinced. The main objections seem to be the loss of parking tax revenue and availability of space, how to measure results and what model to use.

When terms like ‘‘knee-jerk’’ ‘‘populist’’ ‘‘budgetary implications’’ and ‘‘perceived benefits’’ are used, it seems a vote should be taken to see if the councillors would support the concept before wasting more money on consultants.

With the prevailing attitude I can foresee the parking tax remaining until there is a change in mindset or councillors are replaced by candidates on a no parking tax ticket.

The others would have to defend their parking tax policy, which is on the public record at the next elections.

Regarding the claims that the trial would have to stack up instead of wasting more money on consultants: why not run a trial before the next municipal elections across a financial year so a ballot could be run in conjunction with municipal ballot and let the ratepayers, the shoppers, the businesses and the general public have a say.

Would this not be democratic?

This trial could be styled on the successful model at the City of Albury, which abolished parking meters about 20 years ago.

They managed without parking tax revenue and there is no parking space problem.

If it works there and in Wagga, why wouldn’t it work here?

The council has two clear choices — do they bring this regional city into the 21st century as other centres have done and encourage growth in the CBD or do they continue with the punitive parking tax and see further decline?

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