Paid parking at beaches to be considered

Should beachside suburbs have paid parking for visitors?

Central Coast Council will urgently investigate paid parking at Coast beaches for visitors to the region.

Council’s February 8 meeting started with an Administrator’s Minute to explore the viability of introducing a visitor based beach parking system to contribute towards defraying some of the costs of providing services at beach side centres.

Administrator, Dick Persson, said a crucial part of any new paid parking system at beaches was that ratepayers and residents would not pay to park at beaches, just visitors.

“This community and this economy has a very large underpinning from the tourism sector from the visitor economy, and the ratepaying community pays a lot to provide the services for visitors, for example beach services such as lifeguards, rubbish and beach cleaning,” Persson said.

“Most communities with a big visitor input have found a way for visitors to make a contribution, a small contribution, and certainly you wouldn’t look to do anything that might kill the goose that laid the golden egg, but parking is one of those areas that is very common.”

He said other councils had paid beach parking charging visitors but ratepayers received permits with their rates notices to give them free parking.

“Ratepayers should not have to pay all the costs associated with providing services.

“I want to be very clear, I will be very mindful of not damaging the tourist visitor economy.

“I will be equally mindful that ratepayers pay a lot to provide services which many visitors take for granted and I think there is some sense of equity in this approach.”

Persson said this was in response to feedback from the community to explore other revenue raising options.

“I hope that in the current climate, people accept that this is a further attempt to keep trying to find ways of giving us a chance to do other things in the future.

“Even if we get a significant rate increase, it’s not really going to give us an opportunity to do a lot of new things over the medium term,” he said.

Persson said he had also asked the Acting General Manager, Rik Hart, to look at a procurement review where it was quite often “a chance to pick up some low hanging fruit”.

“You can’t deal with a financial situation like this by only implementing big things, like cutting hundreds of staff and raising rates, there lots of other things you have to look at,” he said.

Persson has directed Council staff to report by mid-March about the costs of establishing a paid beach parking system that provides protection to ratepayers, a projected revenue stream, potential timeline to implementation and potential beaches and beach-side centres impacted.

He said when the report came back to Council with a recommendation, it would then go out for public consultation.

Sue Murray