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Meters Matter As Council Merger Approaches

By Kate Myers on December 31, 2015 in News

Photo: Randy Wicks

Photo: Randy Wicks

For many in the Eastern Suburbs, the daily threat of parking inspectors is a very real one. Parking meters complicate the already competitive parking situation around local restaurants, beaches and shops, resulting in nasty fines when that meeting, meal or swim takes slightly longer than expected.

Randwick residents, however, are generally blissfully unaware of this struggle, with the majority of local parking zones restricted by generous 2 and 3-hour limits, and only a couple of small areas of metered parking at Coogee beach. Though these meter-free zones are still restricted by time, there is a sense that the collection of further council revenue through meters deems them an unappealing alternative.

When Randwick mayor Cr Noel D’Souza recently announced his opposition to the introduction of parking meters in the Randwick council area, it came as a welcome relief for residents and business owners alike, assuring them of an unchanging Randwick Council policy, despite a change in leadership.

“There are no plans to introduce on-street parking meters,” Cr D’Souza said. “Anyone who suggests to the contrary is misinformed or is being deliberately mischievous.”

Cr D’Souza’s comments support the Randwick area’s long history of resistance to parking meters. In 2005, Clovelly residents protested vociferously against the proposed introduction of meters into their streets for fear it would change the accessibility of the beach and businesses. Despite attempts by the council to provide exemptions for residents, the plan ultimately failed, beginning a decade long opposition to metered parking in the area.

The recent need for Council’s assurance regarding metered parking stems from the planned amalgamation of Randwick and Waverley Councils to form a sort of ‘super council’ with a shared administration.

It has been suggested that such a move would have a number of benefits, whilst maintaining staffing levels, fees and rates, and allowing included suburbs to continue to exist largely as is.

However, the prevalence of parking meters in the Waverley Council area is in stark contrast to their virtual absence in the Randwick area, leading many residents to voice concerns about the future of Randwick’s parking situation should the two councils amalgamate.

For local businesses, the introduction of parking meters could see a decline in the popularity of areas like The Spot and Coogee Bay Road, particularly for the restaurants and hotels that attract consistently large crowds.

Regardless of the proposed council merger, the resistance to metered parking remains as strong as ever, with Randwick residents determined to maintain the current status quo. Thus far, Randwick Council has assured residents that this will not be jeopardised.

“There was never any plan to introduce parking meters into the Randwick Council area,” a spokesperson for Mr D’Souza said.

“Any merger with Waverley Council would be based on analysis of the Randwick Council service model. There would be no change in the current parking situation in either area.”