Jays Fashions owner Karen Jordan with one of the parking meters she’d like to see go.

Car parking ‘should be free’

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The return of free parking on a Tuesday in Nelson’s CBD still doesn’t cut it for some retailers who say they want free parking to apply every day.
Some local business owners are calling on the council to dump the parking meters and stick to a simple time limit instead to entice more shoppers into the city centre.
As of today, free parking on a Tuesday for the next ten weeks will commence, the third year in a row the initiative facilitated by both the Nelson City Council and Uniquely Nelson will run.
Jays Fashions owner Karen Jordan describes the intiative as “confusing” and “random” and has called the issue “a major mayoral candidate question for retailers”. She thinks that people who choose to come into the city for their shopping shouldn’t be made to pay for parking and the fact that they do is pushing people out of the city.
“It should be free. Retail at this time of year is hard enough and as for just offering it on a Tuesday, well it’s a bit of a joke really. Do they think people are going to hold off and do their shopping on a Tuesday? What happens to the rest of the days? What they spend on advertising just the one day could pay the cost of offering free parking during the months of June and July.”
Mayor Aldo Miccio says although the free parking on Tuesdays initiative has been successful, he is keen to extend it further. “It has been working really well, I want to extend it to Mondays and Wednesdays as well next year.”
He says that the council needs to be doing more to influence shopping patterns during the quieter periods of the year but he would not consider free parking all year round because of the money the council collects from it.
In the last financial year more than $1.1 million in revenue was raised from parking meters and permits, an amount he wouldn’t want to part with.
“It’s a revenue source for the council so to get rid of it all together would mean an impact on rates.”
Robyn Neil, owner operator at Simply Travel, says she believes Nelson would be a lot busier and lose fewer shoppers to Richmond if people didn’t need to pay for parking.  She would like to see free parking days expanded, or introduced year round. “It seems logical. People go to Richmond to shop because of their free parking, and we’re trying to encourage more people into town.”
Richmond Unlimited interim chairman Nathan Smith says free parking throughout Richmond’s CBD is  definitely a major drawcard for both shoppers and retailers. “Free parking is a huge positive for Richmond in terms of a shopping destination. You can park, do your shopping at a leisurely rate without worrying you’ll come out to see a dirty ticket on your car.”
Nelson mayoral candidate Rachel Reese says after speaking with local retailers she can see parking meters are a problem.
“They tell me that shoppers come in and they are in a panic that their ticket is going to expire.  They are saying, I would like to try this on, or will I stop and have a coffee, but no I can’t because my parking meter is about to expire. I’m like that, I’m a busy person and I try to fit in a whole lot of things, but I’m busy looking at that parking meter. It actually doesn’t make for a very relaxing shopping experience.”
Cathy Madigan, of Uniquely Nelson, says in an ideal world there’d be no parking fees all year round. “It’s always been an issue that Richmond has free parking all year round and we have meters, so we would welcome any initiative that increases free parking.”