CBD parking another obstacle for workers

By MEL MARTIN

FOR those working in the Coffs Harbour CBD, getting all-day parking is a daily headache, resulting in all-too-regular parking fines.a

For Ashley Colhoun the headache started on the first day of her new job, when she returned to her car to find that dreaded yellow envelope under her windscreen wiper.

"The sign had graffiti on it and I didn't know there was a difference in the (Elbow Street) carpark," she said.

"I'd parked in the four-hour section, only one spot from where the all-day section ended.

"I was only 15 minutes over when I went back to my car, but I already had a ticket for $77.

"The main problem is there is just no parking around our area for office workers, this (Elbow Street) carpark is full by 8.30am, and if you park in the four-hour section it's really easy to forget to move it."

Coffs Harbour City Council was this week shown to have issued $380,000 of parking fines in the past financial year, an increase of $181,000.

Ms Colhoun wants to see the entire carpark changed to all-day parking, as she says there is little point in having a four-hour carpark there.

"If you're going shopping at the mall you'll park on the other side of the highway," she said.

This sentiment was echoed by Rhonda Gray, who says she says she and her co-workers all get to work early just so they can nab a prized spot and spend the day without having to worry about moving their car.

"The whole Elbow Street carpark should be all day," she said.

"A lot of people don't even know this four-hour section is there. Four hours is a trap, it's not long enough for workers and it's too long for shoppers."

This week, the Daily Telegraph accused Coffs Harbour City Council of greed, after figures showed council had increased its fines revenue by $181,000 to $380,000 in the last financial year.

It said Coffs Harbour is one of the biggest earners outside the Sydney, Illawarra and Newcastle areas.

Council's senior ranger David Brooks said council had issued about 1000 extra fines in the last financial year, and that all funds collected through infringement notices went back to the community through infrastructure improvements.

"One big reason (for the increase) was the introduction of our electronic system, which enables us to go out in the rain. We couldn't do that with chalk," he said.

"The State Government has also increased the amounts of infringement notices, some have even doubled. For example, if you park in a bus zone, you'll now pay $179 instead of $95."

Mr Brooks said $380,000 was the gross amount collected, not actually what council receives, because the Recovery Office charged council for a service fee.

"It's important to point that our rangers are fair and generally give you some extra time allowance," he said.

The good news is that council has plans for more all-ay parking to be established in the 'near future' ? although how near that future is and where the parking will be, at this stage remains a mystery.

Tell us what you think. Email editor@coffscoastadvocate.com.au or write to 53 Moonee Street, Coffs Harbour. See Page 8 for more.



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