Free parking - but not for everyone

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 12:58 01/07/2014
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MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
SIGN OF THE TIMES: Uniquely Nelson’s Cathy Madigan shows one of the free parking stickers on Nelson meters, but says the initiative is not intended for workers.

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Uniquely Nelson manager Cathy Madigan had a busy evening with three helpers to make over Nelson's parking meters for the city's free parking trial starting today.

After the Nelson City Council to make parking in the city free, Madigan and her team had four days to prep for the changeover.

Madigan had 400 curved stickers printed for the city's lollipop meters and 200 for the boxed meters, which have been put over the meter glass windows. The meters have also been turned off apart from in Wakatu Square.

While posters have gone up in stores letting shoppers know, Madigan has also organised advertising in the Nelson Mail and on the radio over the three month parking trial.

As well as wrapping a Uniquely Nelson car in advertisements for the new initiative, the group is using social marketing and e-newsletters to get the word out to its networks and the public.

"One of the most important messages that we are working on is to make sure city workers know it's not for them.

This is about the customers it's not about ‘oh gee, that means I can park in the city for free'. You will get a ticket and not only that it's not in the spirit of the promotion," Madigan said.

There already seemed to be some misconception about this, she said, as she had read online comments from NMIT students assuming they could cash in on the free parking.

"If you are a student and can afford to get a ticket every day well then good luck to you."

Madigan said this was not a long-term solution to the city's parking issues and the council was working out future solutions.

"It's unaffordable and it's not actually about the dollar an hour.

"At the end of the day, yes, we need this over winter because it's quiet and we just need a little bit of a help right now and a level playing field with Richmond, but the long-term solution is not free parking."

Parking booms that would allow people to pay for their length of stay, similar to the system at Nelson airport, could be an option, but would involve cost, she said.

Nelson retailers are hoping the free parking trial will level the playing field with Richmond retailers, but businesses there are not worried. Richmond Mall centre manage Belinda De Clercq said the free parking was a good initiative for Nelson's parking issues, but no threat to the mall.

"I think people will still come to Richmond Mall we have everything on offer and our parking is free with no limits," she said.

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Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne said the free parking initiative was a "non-issue as far as its impact on Tasman".

Both councils were focusing on what they needed to do to make their centres pleasant and welcoming places, he said.

- The Nelson Mail

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