The Bega Valley now has a fulltime, dedicated parking inspector, following a trial that issued $76,000 in fines.
Councillors have unanimously endorsed the new position pointing to positive feedback from local businesses.
“Shop keepers speak glowingly about turn over being up,” Cr Russell Fitzpatrick said at this weeks Council meeting.
“One shop keeper I spoke to said he’d had a 300% increase in business just by having the half-hour parking spot in front of his shop monitored.
“All we are asking is for people to do the right thing.”
At its March 14 meeting, Council resolved to undertake a dedicated parking compliance trial.
The aims of the trial were to:
- Encourage people to change their parking habits;
- Add value to traffic management measures.
“This trial has been successful in encouraging people to comply with parking limits in the Shire’s main town centres and it is now proposed that the position is established, as a permanent role, within Council,” the staff report to Councillors this week said.
“The establishment of a full time Parking Officer position will allow [other] Ranger staff to concentrate on other compliance priorities.” Such as “illegal dumping and protection of migratory shorebirds”.
The trial arose out of perceptions that a lack of turn-over of timed spaces was affecting the viability of local business, reducing accessibility to town centres, and reducing community respect for compliance signage across the Shire.
The new ranger on the beat did not go unnoticed across Bega, Bermagui, Merimbula, Pambula and Eden. The trial which ran between May 21 and September 13 “identified significant non-compliance with parking limits,” according to to the staff report.
“As the trial progressed, increased turn-over of parking spaces and improved traffic flow were observed.
“Additional positive benefits of the trial included increasing driver knowledge of parking signage, provision of directions to visitors, increased rapport with local businesses, and provision of information on a range of other Council services.”
The trial returned $13,589 to Council’s coffers after the cost of the trial and other expenses were taken out.
During the trial, 496 penalty infringement notices were issued with a total value of $76,413.
“Of this revenue, on average, 70% is returned to Council from the Office of State Revenue after 90 days. Extrapolating these figures, the annual return is expected to be around $144,000,” the staff report says.
“On this basis, establishment of the role would be budget positive for Council, in the order of $44,000 per annum, which would partially offset the cost of other compliance services that Council provides.”
Of particular concern to Cr Robyn Bain was the number of infringements issued to people for parking in a space reserved for people with disabilities or mobility issues.
“Of all the cruddy things you can do,” she said
As part of the initiative Councillors also agreed there should be a review and possible upgrade to parking signage around the shire and discussion around increasing some of the parking time limits.
“Pambula has been singing his [parking officer] praises,” Cr Sharon Tapscott said.
“But perhaps we do need to revisit some of the two hour parking in Merimbula to be three hours.
“Two hours is sometimes not enough time to have lunch with friends, see a movie or get your hair done.”
The trial was supported by local Chambers of Commerce, with Cr Mitchell Nadin flagging a submission from the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce that will make other suggestions.
“It is now incumbent on Council to manage parking in our town centres,” he said.