In my role as Chair of the Newcastle Alliance, I am calling for Newcastle City Council and Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy to trial a new parking fee structure in the CBD in order to stop strangulation of business.
After consultation with Alliance members and business owners there is a common view that the current confusing and expensive parking payment structures throughout the CBD are causing loss of customers and forcing businesses to close due to lack of customer traffic.
The Alliance is calling for an immediate parking trial by Newcastle City Council of the following:
- The first 30 minutes of parking at no charge
- A flat rate of $2.00 per hour thereafter
The confusion caused by the current parking system is a clear deterrent to people visiting the Newcastle CBD. We feel a simple, low cost parking system adopted across the CBD would spark renewal in CBD visitation.
The Allianace have welcomed the adoption of the NSW State Government’s Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy and the efforts of Newcastle City Council via organisations such as Newcastle Now.
But simply, if businesses continue to be strangled and close down at current rates due to something as simple as parking, what will be left in the CBD for anyone anyway?
To make matters worse, we have Council compliance officers patrolling the streets waiting for meter’s to tick over and handing out fines. They are the front line of the Council, the front line of the CBD – they should be a welcoming force and assist with bringing in visitation, not drive it away.
Parking within the CBD continues to be an ongoing problem for businesses and as recently as March this year, the Alliance welcomed Newcastle City Council General Manager Ken Gouldthorp and outlined a range of parking related issues of which have not yet been addressed.
The issues included:
- The aims of Council’s parking review and the proposed timeline for the review to take place
- Confusion over parking signs and associated fees in residential areas, in particular in Newcastle West
- An election promise to review the cost of parking fines for the inner city
- Friendly and efficient compliance officers that will assist businesses and customers to keep the City running
- Status of a report from Council to show the income derived from parking metres and the amount of money collected by fines.
I and the rest of the Alliance team are convinced this trial is a chance for Newcastle City Council to implement positive change for business and public alike.