by Jeni Bone
Boat ramps and other coastal locations will be the targets under a proposed revenue-raising plan for paid parking around the Tweed Shire.
Parking meters will make fishing more expensive
At a meeting tonight, Tweed Shire Council is asking its councillors to consider allocating money to a pilot program of paid parking at Fingal Head Boat Ramp and Ambrose Brown Park at Pottsville - a rate of $2 an hour for cars and $5 for cars with a trailer.
The report has identified more than 1,000 parking spaces in high usage areas where Council could implement a pay parking scheme, among them Kennedy Drive Boat Ramp, Duranbah Beach, Cabarita Beach Norries Headland, Chinderah Boar Ramp, Tweed Heads Old Fire Station Bay St, Hastings Point Cudgera Creek.
Following a study into the viability of paid parking bays, a Council report states: 'The introduction of a pay parking scheme provides the opportunity to utilise existing land and assets to generate a new income stream and supplement the limited maintenance funds, without significant extra burden on the rate base by targeting tourist users.
'This (study) confirms the income potential of such a scheme, however to roll out the scheme as a whole also requires a large initial outlay based on various assumptions of patronage and other risks.'
A staged implementation plan is proposed for consideration in the 2013-2014 budget process.
The region's fishos and boaties voiced their objections to the proposal this morning, calling in to local radio stations and pointing out that with registration, fuel and other costs, the simple pastime of fishing is becoming an expensive outing. Adding $5 per hour parking will make fishing from some safe and central locations prohibitive.
One fishing identity pointed out that if the Council is concerned about raising revenue, it would be best served sending officers to boat ramps to fine fishers who bring in catches that are below size, or fish off the seawall, and fine 4WD owners who take their vehicles along the beaches where such driving is prohibited.
Councillor Warren Polglase said despite the proposal's unpopularity it was the council's job to take charge and show leadership. 'We have been studying paid parking schemes in other Northern Rivers shires and it seems to be the best way to get the extra revenue we will need to lower rates,' he told media today.
'It won't just be boat ramps and some main streets will receive meters too, but boat ramps have been identified as priority areas,'he said, adding it would take about three months for the council to reach a decision.
More at www.tweed.nsw.gov.au