Relief over parking review

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 21/11/2012

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Changes to Palmerston North's parking regime have been labelled less than "a love bomb".

But one of the initiators of a petition demanding more relaxed rules, Spectra Hair owner Gabrielle Bundy-Cooke, said businesses were relieved the council was listening and had designed a programme for further changes.

Councillors held a private workshop on Monday to brainstorm ways to improve the parking system in response to a crescendo of complaints.

It decided to immediately extend the "grace" period from five to 10 minutes between parking and feeding the meter, and after the paid time ran out.

It will also use "parking pixies" during the two weeks before Christmas to help visitors to the city understand what they have to do.

Ms Bundy-Cooke said she was happy the council was addressing the issues, but would have liked to have seen more improvements before Christmas. "When I make a mistake, I admit it, and love bomb the customer, give them a free hair cut and shampoo and conditioner."

The council equivalent of a love-bomb would have been something bigger, like free parking the week before Christmas, she said.

More changes before Christmas are possible, as the workshop agreed to an immediate review of charges and time restrictions in parts of the CBD, with any changes likely to be made within weeks.

A working group of councillors and staff will be set up within the next fortnight to review a long-term parking plan. Changes would be put out for consultation with a view to implementing them in the first half of next year.

Chief executive Paddy Clifford said the council acknowledged the public angst about the parking regime, and recognised the need for some short-term flexibility as well as long-term solutions.

Topics on the working group's agenda include consideration of:

Reduced charges in low-use areas

Automatic receipts

Continuous bay numbering that is easier to read

Screens that are easier to read

Limiting loss of service for credit card and text transactions

Pay and display options.

The council has updated information about parking behaviours since Frogparking was introduced.

Parking compliance rates have improved from 60 per cent to 90 per cent.

The number of infringements ticketed has increased from 2-3 per cent to 6-9 per cent.

An average of 5300 meter transactions are made every day.

An average of 180 tickets a day are issued - about 3.5 per cent of all transactions.

Carpark occupancy has fallen from an average 60 per cent to 40 per cent. The provision of 700 more central city carparks including one-hour free parks at The Plaza and the economic downturn have contributed to the fall.

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- Manawatu Standard

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