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Small business leaders watch the parking meters

In an effort to deter the use of vehicles on inner-city streets, Sydney City Council is pushing ahead with plans to carpet suburbs with paid meters and tighter parking restrictions. One suburb that will cop new meters is East Chippendale, situated between Abercrombie and Regent Streets reports Nicholas McCallum in the South Sydney Herald in November 2009.

Council suggests that the new restrictions will be imposed to increase vehicle turnover in the area and free-up spaces for residents. There is some merit to Council’s reasoning because of the area’s proximity to two universities and former Carlton Brewery site on which development will soon recommence. However, this is not a view shared by local business owners who have come together to fight Council’s proposal.

The East Chippendale Business Alliance (ECBA) has formed to lobby against the proposed parking controls, declaring that the parking study undertaken was flawed.

Council hopes that the intended restrictions on long-term parking will decrease the volume of cars that enter East Chippendale as people opt for public transport, yet it also believes that imposing paid, short-term parking will be to the benefit of local business. But the ECBA has rejected this notion.

According to the Alliance’s media spokesperson, Murray Tregonning, the small wholesale operators who had moved to the area did so on the basis of free and easy access for customers.

“Five years ago there were no parking restrictions in the area at all and businesses made commercial decisions to locate here for that fact,” he stated. Commercial activity accounts for more than two thirds of the East Chippendale precinct, according to a conservative estimate from the group.

As well as its stance against Council, the ECBA is at odds with local residents whom it perceives to be influencing the decision to impose parking restrictions. “For too long a vocal minority of time-rich ‘residents’ who chose to inhabit for the lower-end property values, has swayed Council thinking and actions in this area,” the ECBA claimed. 

Council may suggest that parking restrictions are well intentioned as a means of addressing environmental concerns through reduced traffic volume in the city. However, the fundamental problem is that public transport does not currently provide an adequate alternative. 

In September this year Lord Mayor Clover Moore praised the 20,000 small to medium businesses that contribute more than $40 million to Sydney’s economy. This was at the launch of a free small business seminar.

Ms Moore said the seminars “are just one way the City is helping small businesses navigate today’s challenging business environment”.

The ECBA does not share the Mayor’s appraisal, despite Sydney Council suggesting that paid parking will be good for the suburb. For wholesale businesses, such as the ones found in East Chippendale, restricting vehicle access will restrict business.

What won’t be detrimentally affected is Council’s parking revenue, which in the last seven years has garnered the City nearly $96 million from parking meters. “We understand the Council’s desire to increase its revenue base,” said Mr Tregonning. “But there must be a balance.”

Sydney City Council did not respond to the invitation for comment.

Photo: Ali Blogg - Abercrombie Street, Chippendale