Page & Blackmore owner Jo Dippie says parking issues is affecting her business. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Free parking concerns city business owners

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Following the lift of the national lockdown, the CBD is once again a hive of activity. However, some retailers and shoppers are frustrated with inner city parking issues.

Nelson City Council made the decision at the start of Alert Level 4 to suspend all parking fees in the city centre until the end of June 2020.

The measure was designed to encourage people to visit the city centre and support local businesses.

Drivers were asked to respect sign-posted time limits so there would be enough parking for everyone to access the city centre, however, council received feedback that some drivers had been staying longer than the allowed time limits.

Parking wardens have spent the past week monitoring the situation and found that 23 per cent of the cars they observed had overstayed parking limits.

Occupancy rates at city centre car parks were consistently above 95 per cent and there was an increase in the number of cars that were parked dangerously.

Page & Blackmore Booksellers owner Jo Dippie says there is a responsibility for both retailers and shoppers not to take advantage.

“The concept of free parking means people have parked, walked away, and come back eight hours later. There used to be a revolving door.

“We have had people say ‘I came to pick up my book but I couldn’t find a park, so I went home,’ so it is affecting business.”

She says retailers are often the worst culprits.

“On Sunday, we notice the main street is filled up with cars and it’s all the shopkeepers.”

Jo says there needs to be more clarity around the time you’re allowed to spend in a car park.

“It’s good the council are looking at different options, but I think it needs to be clear, have a rule and stick to it.”

Throughout June, Council will be replacing all parking metres with new pay-by-plate machines.

Council will enforce time limits throughout this period, but the new machines won’t be able to accept payment until July 1.

All city centre streets and parking squares in Nelson have time limits, so even with no payment for parking, there will be enforcement.

This means drivers do not need to display a ticket or pay to park but must only stay for the signposted time limit of their park.

Drivers that overstay the limit or park dangerously are liable to receive a fine.