Parking trial kyboshed

A FREE parking trial in East Perth to help ailing businesses has been kyboshed by Perth councillors.

Chief concern was the the loss of $45,000 revenue.

Cr Reece Harley asked colleagues to support a half-hour free period on Royal Street when the city installs new parking machines early next year.

He got support from councillors Jemma Green and James Limnios, who’d previously tried to get a more widespread free parking plan, but the rest of the council baulked.

Around 1100 people had signed a petition asking Perth councillors for a free parking trial, a petition which lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi described as “unverified”.

Jane Calligaro has run La Bella Boutique on Royal Street for 14 years, and believes the high parking cost is keeping customers away.

“It definitely deters people from coming to Royal Street … the businesses in our location have all said parking’s a huge issue, and it’s actually ridiculous that the City of Perth councillors don’t agree.”

She’s about to change her shop over to a dog grooming business and says her trade would definitely benefit from free short-term parking so people could drop off and pick up their pooches.

Cr Harley said: “I don’t think we should be disincentivising locals to shop locally” with the current high parking prices.

• Emtpy cafe seats and a deserted street Royal Street business owners Jane and Janette Calligaro agree with Perth councillor Reece Harley that East Perth needs some relief from parking fees, which they say are driving away customers. Photo by Steve Grant

Opportunistic

“It is actually easier for someone to drive three or four blocks out of the city … than for them to shop locally.”

Cr Judy McEvoy reckoned Cr Harley’s attempt to get this motion through now, with the election looming in October, as “opportunistic” and Ms Scaffidi agreed with her assessment saying it was way too early to be looking at this.

Cr McEvoy said the city has to pay the steep price of the Perth Parking Levy to the state government (a $1150 tax for each parking bay in the city, meant to go into a kitty to be used on a public transport project) and it wasn’t responsible to introduce a free parking period that’d cost them about $45,000.

The final vote was Crs Harley, Limnios and Green in favour of a free parking trial, and Ms Scaffidi and Crs Yong, Mcevoy, Lily Chen and Janet Davidson against.

“The reality is everyone around this table would love to give free parking…it takes quite a lot of courage to be a councillor that can say no in the face of an election,” Ms Scaffidi said.

“I’m not up for election, just to remind those who might be wondering, but it does take courage to be able to say no to something that, to the outside person, might seem like a nice idea.”

Perth Labor MP John Carey was ropeable when he found out Perth councillors were using the Perth parking levy as a reason not to allow a free parking period.

Free parking was one of the most popular ideas at the Perth City Summit held by him on August 19.

by DAVID BELL

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