Free parking on council agenda again

October 11, 2017

Greater Shepparton City Council will debate the merits of unpaid parking in Shepparton's central business district at next week's council meeting.

Unpaid parking options in Shepparton’s central business district will be considered by Greater Shepparton City Council next week, as a measure to help improve economic performance.

And the mayor expects a robust discussion around the merits of options, which could include a previously-mooted trial period.

While some councillors are on board, the cause is not without detractors.

Some heavily campaigned on making central business district parking free last year, while others have openly described the push as populist and knee jerk.

Whether council officers will recommend a previously flagged unpaid parking trial to go ahead or not remains unclear.

But removing paid council parking will leave an almost $900000 shortfall, the amount expected from parking revenue this financial year.

After months of discussion, Mayor Dinny Adem confirmed the matter would be considered next week and would revolve around ‘‘a few options put to council around the potential for free parking’’.

Cr Adem suggested the options would include making no change.

But if a change was to be endorsed, the mayor said it would likely be acted on rapidly.

‘‘Council officers been working on this for quite a while,’’ he said.

‘‘Depending on what is adopted, I imagine we can act relatively quickly.’’

Highlighting possible options, Cr Adem said ‘‘partial free parking’’ and ‘‘upgrading equipment in regard to monitoring’’.

Regardless of what is endorsed, the goal of boosting economic activity remained.

‘‘It’s aiming to address a perceived lack of activity in the CBD...economic activity.’’

A 24-hour period of traffic monitoring in an around the Maude St Mall would also serve to provide baseline data to work from, the mayor said.

As for next week, Cr Adem looked forward to ‘‘spirited debate over this’’.

‘‘I think there’s some different viewpoints, any one of the options could be put forward.’’

‘‘I don’t know what to expect.’’

Councillors had in recent months come out in support of introducing a coin-free parking system, using a phone or credit card, with the city’s ‘‘old hat’’ paid parking network labelled an inconvenience.

Cr Chris Hazelman has stressed there was no such thing as free parking, arguing it had to be paid for somewhere along the line.

Others have questioned what mensurables any trial unpaid parking trial would be tested against to make sure it was effective.

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