Push to end paid parking heats up

Wise Eyes Optical owner Andrew Reveley and City Diggers general manager Phil Ryan with some of the thousands of signatures opposing parking meter measures. Picture: ADAM McLEANMore than 2000 people have signed a petition calling for Wollongong City Council to urgently review its unpopular parking meter strategy, ahead of what is shaping up to be a rowdy public meeting on Wednesday.The meeting, to be held at City Diggers at 6pm, has been billed as a chance for retailers, shoppers and employees to vent their fury over the paid parking measures they claim have severely dented trade and deterred shoppers from visiting the CBD.Wise Eyes Optical owner Andrew Reveley said the vast majority of customers were vehemently opposed to the existing parking meter strategy.”I would say 99.9 per cent are dead against it,” he said.”A lot of people … don’t feel they are getting good value for money, and a lot of people feel there has been no community consultation.”Business owners hope the council will commit to a parking meter review which involves community leaders who “have a sense of what the community wants”, Mr Reveley said.City Diggers general manager Phil Ryan, who is spearheading the campaign against the paid parking measures, said the council’s proposed move away from the $2 flat fee towards a pro-rata rate would not restore trade for the CBD’s troubled retailers.Wollongong MP Noreen Hay and Liberal Wollongong candidate Michelle Blicavs have confirmed they will attend the meeting, along with Wollongong City Council general manager David Farmer and South Coast Labor Council secretary Arthur Rorris.Former marketing manager for the Newcastle CBD, Malcolm Barnes, will speak about the negative experience that city had when parking metres were introduced.Meantime, readers of the Mercury website have expressed their displeasure at the council’s proposed parking meter changes released this week, which signal a move from a $2 flat fee to a pro-rata rate.”Planet Earth to Council! Planet Earth to Council! Shoppers are not coming back until all the meters are gone!” declared RU Kiddinme.”The whole system is screwed. I avoid town like the plague. Suburbs offer better shopping whilst not charging me to do so,” wrote Ash.Andy said Wollongong people were “voting with their feet”. He wrote: “How sad for small business owners who are on the receiving end of such bullish policy.”
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