THE CBD parking issue has reignited following a controversial decision by a Tamworth shopping plaza to cut its maximum free parking time limits by a third.
Centrepoint owner Andrew Richardson claims he was forced to reduce time limits in his undercover car park from three hours to two hours to stop widespread rorting by CBD workers.
He said up to 90 “illegitimate” cars a day were parking at the centre, moving their vehicles out of the gates within the three-hour limit and driving straight back in.
“It costs a fortune to build and operate a car park and people just think its their right to abuse it,” Mr Richardson said.
“It is extraordinary the rudeness my guys get when they try to police the local workers and ask that they park further away from the busy CBD.
“This car park is certainly not a revenue raiser and we want the best for the shopkeepers and that is our desire and why it is there – as a convenience for all.”
He said since the parking limit was reduced, the number of CBD workers exploiting the system had dramatically declined.
The move has again highlighted the issue of a lack of parking spaces in the CBD.
But Tamworth Regional Council manager of operation services Murray Russell said council had done everything in its power to ensure parking demand was met.
A major 2011 council parking study made a raft of recommendations to address the CBD parking shortfall, and Mr Russell said many had already been acted on.
They include installing parking metres at Burke St and Kable Ave and spending about $1 million on a free car park off Brisbane St.
“It’s all about striking a balance between short-stay and long-stay parking,” Mr Russell said.
“What tends to happen is that people make a decision about whether to pay and have a short walk or whether not to pay and have a longer walk.”
He said council had opted for a mix of free parking “a couple of blocks” from key areas and paid or timed parking closer to the CBD
A number of free car parks, like the Brisbane St facility, were rarely at capacity, Mr Russell said.
He said all money raised from parking meters and fines is ploughed into building or improving parking in the city.
“Councils provides a lot of parking and shopping centres need to fit into that mix,” Mr Russell said.
“If long-stay parkers are taking up short-stay spots, then obviously Centrepoint didn’t have the mix right.”