Free parking, tsunami sirens hot topics for council

By John Cousins

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Pressure will be cranked up this week on two topical Tauranga issues when advocates for free parking and powerful tsunami sirens put their arguments to the council today.

The special workshop on parking takes place two days before Rotorua decides whether to trial free parking on Mondays next month in a bid to attract more shoppers into the city centre.

Relaxing Tauranga's downtown parking controls will be discussed at the 3pm workshop.

An advocate for free parking, Bill Campbell from gift and souvenir shop Fancy That, told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that he has been handing out brochures to encourage retailers to attend.

"We would love to have as many people as possible voicing their opinions," he said.

His brochure asked retailers whether they agreed with parking charges in the CBD when all the other shopping centres in Tauranga were free. Mr Campbell said CBD retailers were all getting the same complaints as him from customers who disliked having to pay for parking when it was free elsewhere.

Options to make the downtown more shopper-friendly will be high on the workshop's agenda. The report to councillors will be based on a comprehensive parking survey carried out earlier this year.

Papamoa Progressive Association chairman Steve Morris will open the 1pm meeting with a summary of the association's recent tests involving the use of two modern versions of traditional World War II air raid sirens.

He has so far received 298 responses to the tests carried out at Papamoa and Mount Maunganui last Friday, of which 268 people said they heard the sirens. He will show the locations on a map from every person who emailed or phoned. He was hoping for a good turnout of supporters to the 20-minute presentation.

"This is our one chance to push for change - for the council to scrap its plans to spend $1 million on 60 or more electronic sirens. We need loud 'air raid' sirens, designed so that everyone can hear, that last for decades, and are cheap to install and cheap to maintain," Mr Morris said.

He has been told that Opotiki will be installing air raid-styled sirens as part of its disaster warning system.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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