Free parking in Hastings will continue for another six months and the cost will not be charged to ratepayers’ accounts.
Hastings District Council decided today to continue the trial to December 30.
“There is no doubt the vibe in the city is improved and the retail figures are excellent, and I think the majority of people like not having to use meters,” said mayor Lawrence Yule.
“However it is a fact that running parking is not free because we need to police the time people stay in parks among other things, and the real issue is how to pay for it,” said Mr Yule.
Based on feedback from the public, it is clear residents want to continue not having to find coins to put into meters but are not happy with the plan to target rates to properties to cover the cost, he said.
The continued trial will give Council more time to explore other options for paying for central city parking should they decide to continue it into next year.
It would also allow time for more data to be gathered on whether not having to pay for parking through meters has led to improved economic outcomes.
The $270,000 cost of the extended trial will come out of the Hastings car parking reserve fund which has been built up from parking meter funds and infringement payments over time.
Mr Yule said “everyone I have talked to wants to keep the free parking; the sticking point has been how we should pay for it”.
Council heard that the retail economy in Hastings is “going through a really good time”. But how much of that was due to ‘free’ parking could not be definitively measured, said Mr Yule.
“There is no doubt that our central city is a brighter, busier, more vibrant place, and at least some of that has to be down to free parking,” said deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers.
“This is one of the building blocks in growing vibrancy in our central city which is a good thing for our whole district. I haven’t met one person who wants to go back to putting a coin back into a meter. The sticking point is paying for that, and extending the trial gives us time to put our minds to solving that issue,” she said.
4 October 2017
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