Consistency needed in parking strategy

"Someone has to pay", says councillor

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 08:45 16/07/2014
 Laressa Shenfield
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ
PAY OR WALK?: Marlborough district councillor Laressa Shenfield says pay-as-you-leave parking and free off-street parking at weekends would be considered as options for a new parking strategy in Blenheim.

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People would be surprised how far some drivers were willing to walk for a free car park, says Marlborough District Council support services manager Dean Heiford.

The Marlborough District Council's community and finance committee agreed more consistency was needed with parking in Blenheim when they met to discuss the council's parking strategy yesterday.

Blenheim businesses wanted parking to be the same everywhere, Heiford said.

If one shop had a parking metre outside their store, every shop should have a parking metre, he said.

Councillors agreed the $350,000 annual car parking deficit, caused by property purchases funded from the account, needed to be addressed.

But upping parking fees had consequences, with more people parking in residential areas to avoid paying to park, Heiford said.

"You'll be surprised at how far someone will walk if they've got a free car park," he said.

"We're already getting complaints from residential areas that people can't get out of their driveways because people are parking there all day."

Too much time-restrictive parking was one of the issues causing the deficit, he said.

A lot of that parking could be pay and display or pay as you exit, he said.

"You've got the pay and display behind Kathmandu, and you could probably fire a cannon through there and not hit anything," he said.

"We need to equalise everything."

Properties funded by the account that had not yet "paid their way" were also responsible for the deficit, he said.

Council parking portfolio holder Councillor Laressa Shenfield said Marlborough Chamber of Commerce would ask Blenheim retailers for their thoughts on parking.

More information was needed on parking options and ways to decrease the deficit before any decision, she said.

If parking became free in central Blenheim, rates would increase about 2 per cent, she said.

"If we introduce free parking, someone has to pay, whether that be user pays or ratepayer funded."

Pay-as-you-leave parking and free off-street parking at weekends would be considered as options for the new parking strategy, she said.

There hadn't been a parking increase in Marlborough since eight years ago, when both Blenheim and Picton parking was reviewed.

Councillor Jenny Andrews said it was the right time to discuss parking.

"I think we're very generous with what we give in parking time," she said.

Committee chairman John Leggett agreed and said people needed to put the cost of parking in to perspective.

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"For anyone coming into town, the cost of starting your car up, driving a 5 kilometre round-trip . . . throw a latte into the mix, and 80 cents an hour seems to me to be a very reasonable cost to pay for an hour parking in Blenheim," he said.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said people loved the idea of free parking, until they realised that meant a rates increase.

The council couldn't afford to carry on with the current parking deficit, he said.

The committee agreed to: Review the deficit sites not purchased for the purpose of car-parking.

Work with Marlborough Chamber of Commerce to get feedback from businesses.

Present potential solutions on the parking strategy to the next council meeting.

It was recommended a new parking strategy be finalised and implemented by December 1 this year.

- The Marlborough Express

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