There will be no more free parking in Hastings with the district’s council kicking it to the kerb at today’s meeting.
Councillors voted that the authority resolve to return to user pays via parking meters for on-street parking from next month, at the cost of a $1.00 an hour.
This decision was made following public consultation on the matter which saw almost 70 per cent of respondents wanting the user-pays system returned.
Council’s planning and regulatory manager John O’Shaughnessy said the initial free parking trial was voted on by council in September 2015, after a proposal was made for it at a symposium held on the revitalisation of Hastings' CBD and a request from the Hastings City Business Association.
However, he said after more than 18 months, data analytics show there is no evidence to support the conclusion that the trial has produced significantly greater retail activity or vibrancy in the city centre.
“There is evidence, based on the public response to both HDC and HCBA attitudinal surveys over the trial period, that the trial has generated an improved sense of satisfaction and confidence with both users of the city centre, public, and retailers businesses within the centre,” he said.
“However, when the question how to fund on street parking is put, a clear majority support user pays.”
For the councillors to reach today's decision, they looked to the 3,000 annual plan submissions from the public.
O’Shaughnessy said from this consultation, the clear majority of those who responded felt the introduction of a targeted rate to fund the revenue shortfall was not a fair and equitable system for paying for parking and that a user pays system was a fairer system.
“It appears on the surface that there is a disconnect between the trial of ‘free’ time limited parking being well received by the community and many calling for its continuation, with the consultation outcomes of 68 per cent wanting to pay for on street parking as they go,” he said.
“However, this is not surprising considering the trial was free in that the loss to date $805,000 of parking revenue was funded by the 2014/15 rating surplus and parking reserves, but going forward the community effectively had to decide on their preferred method of funding the on street, time limited, parking either by an additional charge on rates or by putting cash in to a parking meter.
“So in effect when it came to it, the clear majority favoured user pays, namely meters on the street.”
In addition to returning to metered parking, councillors also voted on the implementation of the “Park Mate” mobile phone application for central city on-street parking spaces.
O’Shaughnessy said this recommendation to council came from comments that came out of the public consultation process that coin operated parking meters were not a desirable or convenient way to pay and did not fit with how society now expected to use technology to undertake transactional payments.
“Council staff are confident following the successful introduction of the mobile phone application ‘Park Mate’ for Council’s off street car parks that this application could easily be introduced for on street parking as a more convenient payment method,” he said.