Parking Issues

The Parking Controversy, or lack of.

On Tuesday 19th June 2012, Liverpool City Council organised a public meeting dealing with the “Pay and display parking system”.  The meeting attracted some 40 people, some were pensioners, others were shop keepers, business operators and property owners. Some business operators complained about the short comings of the present system and blamed the introduction of parking fees for their lack of customers. Some pensioners and ratepayers suggested that they should be exempt on the basis that they have paid Council rates for many years.

Peter Harle JP

Councillor Peter Harle JP

Unfortunately few of those,  if any had attended previous CBDs’ public meetings when the proposed parking strategy was discussed. To be fair, there were also those that had positive comments citing an increase in customers in the city centre, particular in busy George Street and Macquarie Street. 

Despite many interjections and calls by the General Manager for calm, Councils’ consultants tried to present a 20 minute overview of the strategy. The Parking Strategy was based on the consultants reports that all Councillors had initially agreed to implement and is recorded in Councils records. The strategy identified the need to replace the aging Northumberland Street parking station and provide additional parking facilities in and around the CBD. The strategy analysed how “Pay and Display Parking Meters” could provide the funding source.

“How do objectors of the current scheme expect Council to raise the necessary funds to pay for urgently needed parking improvements? If rates are to be the source, how much of an increase is acceptable? Council collects around $70M from ratepayers each year, how much does Council increase its rates by to pay for such a scheme? As an example, Council would have to increases its rates by at least 10% for two years to collect the $15M needed for a new parking station.  What do the objectors and those that expect “free parking” suggest that Council does NOT do so that it can use that money on parking facilities instead?

Surveys taken over the last 8 years indicate that lack of parking is the 2nd most important issue of concern to Liverpool  residents.   I firmly believe that it is unfair to expect all rate payers to subsidise parking facilities that many do not make uses of.  The only fair and practical method is based on “the user pays principle”, not all of it, but at least a significant portion, anything else is unfair. Far too many people expect someone else to pay for a service or benefit they use without contributing towards it. Relatively few ratepayers outside a 10km radius of the Liverpool CBD actually come to it on a regular basis. Instead they choose to travel to shops and business other than Liverpool. Why should all ratepayers subsidise facilities they make little use of?  The present system may not be perfect and needs fine tuning, but Councillors knew that when the strategy was developed almost two years ago.

Bear in mind that past Councils have done little to ease the parking problem. Over time, this scheme will be one of the better decisions of Council.  (22nd June 2012).

Parking Meters –  Pay & Display – Week ending 6th of May 2012

Election time is approaching and the political games began at last Monday Nights Council Meeting. The political point scoring exercise started by a controversial Notice Of Motion (NOM) from a Labor Party Councillor attempting to implement a premature major change to the Pay and Display (P&D) Parking Scheme currently being trialled in Liverpool.  A scheme that has taken almost two years to implement and agreed upon by the majority of Councillors, (Liberal, Labor and Independents) including those that tried to change it on Monday evening, albeit prematurely!

Undoubtedly the P&D parking scheme has some teething problems that will take time to  correct. However, each Councillor was aware of that possibility and knew it would take around six months before practical changes should be made. Every Council across NSW that introduced a paid parking scheme has had to modify it to suit their community, Liverpool is no different.

In hind sight, customer parking information could have been better.  Many users believed they had to pay $2 for parking. Not so, parking costs around 3.33 cents per minute based on a $2 per hour fee and is amongst the lowest in the metropolitan area. If the user only needs 30 minutes, the cost is $1, while 50 cents buys 15 minutes and 20 cents gives around 7 minutes. Parking costs a minimum of $2 only when the user chooses to pay via a credit card. It is not economically viable to charge less than $2 due to Credit Card processing fees.  Parking information has been updated to reflect that information and is currently being placed on all parking meters. That change should result in a better understanding of how to use the system and reduce initial resentment. Once users are aware that they can find a parking spot without cruising around the Central Business District, (CBD) wasting time and fuel, its popularity will increase to the benefit of everyone. Keep in mind that Liverpool City Council allocates all collected parking revenue (until at least 2016) to update and improve its parking facilities. That revenue also pays for the “free shuttle bus” to Collimore Park and the security staff to ensure safe all day parking.

The Independent Councillors (and I consider myself to be one,  irrespective of the politically motivated comments of some critics) ensured that the proposed premature changes to the parking scheme did not succeed. That was done by the Independents calling for a rescission motion which was passed by the majority of Councillors. The result proved that Councillors can work together to achieve a positive outcome despite political differences.

No-one wants to pay for parking, especially when it appears to be “free” elsewhere in the city. However, without a P&D parking scheme, Liverpool will stagnate. For decades parking has been one of the top three issues of concern to the majority of ratepayers and the business community. This Council had the foresight to introduce such a system despite its initial unpopularity.