Mixed views on city parking trial

By Astrid Austin

5 comments
Hastings Focal Point Cinema and Cafe manager Evie Wilce says there are still loose ends that need sorting out regarding free parking. Photo / Duncan Brown
Hastings Focal Point Cinema and Cafe manager Evie Wilce says there are still loose ends that need sorting out regarding free parking. Photo / Duncan Brown

More shoppers are coming into the Hastings central business district to make the most of the free parking - however, some business owners are questioning whether it is really helping the city.

The council introduced the four month free parking trial in November, costing the council about $115,000 in lost revenue.

In a month the council will decide whether the free parking incentive will stay for good.

Hastings City Business Association general manager Susan McDade said she would like to see it become a permanent fixture.

"All in all people have gotten into the spirit of it. Money wise, it is very hard to judge. We have had a very good holiday trading period, with a 20 per cent increase.

"A few things do need to be adjusted. The council needs to make allowances for all day parking for staff, but for most part it is good," Mrs McDade said.

Havelock North local John Syme was impressed with the initiative.

"Yes, it's good. They have it in Havelock and they take $20 each year as part of our rates. We used to park down by Kmart where it is free but now we park wherever we go," Mr Syme said.

Cake Style owner Donna Kyle said it had certainly benefited her business.

"We have had nothing but people say how good it is and how it is so much easier to get parking when it is free."

Breakers Cafe and Bar had also just experienced its busiest months on record.

"December and January were our busiest months ever, so whether or not that has had anything to do with it, I am not sure, but it is a distinct possibility that's for sure," bar manager Will Te Kowhai said.

"Three hours is obviously better, as in an hour you tend to make a rush of it. I guess it doesn't do a lot for council revenue but at the end of the day it saves money and the CBD has benefited from it," he said.

He did have some queries about how feasible it would be in the long run.

"I would say during the quiet times of the year maybe not, but bring it back during the busier times. Council has got to make some revenue somehow. I think to run it through winter might be counter-productive."

However, some businesses believed it had hindered their business rather than helped.

Focal Point Cinema Hastings branch manager Evie Wilce said there were a lot of loose ends that needed to be tied up.

"I think it is a good idea but if they are going to do it, they need to manage it better. Maybe extend some of the times of the parks, so that there are more three hour parks available, because certainly in this area, only being one hour car parks means that our customers can't feel comfortable when they come in, because they are worried about getting tickets," Mrs Wilce said.

The manager said she liked the motion, but the increased parking tickets made it hard to contribute to working in the city centre.

"For staff as well, it is difficult because from here there is nowhere within safe walking distance where we can park and work. We used to all park behind Breakers and pay for a day but now we are forced to move our cars. We've all been getting parking tickets, for not being able to go out and move it. It's annoying because with the change we can't park there for the whole day," Mrs Wilce said.

"People would prefer to pay and know that they are not going to get a ticket."

Red Rat Hastings manager Sam Henry was at a loss as to how it could work long-term.

"We have to park up for three hours and then go out and move our cars and we can't pay extra to stay longer, when we have to be here.

My staff were finding too many issues with it. So, I don't know if they try and find some way to give the staff who work in the retail area more, like a card they can put on their dash just while they are at work, because they can't afford to be paying $12 tickets everyday.

"If we can give something to the staff, then we should keep it, but if we don't, then we will probably be better off going back to paying."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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