A move for a "free-for-all" parking system in Rotorua's CBD has been quashed.

Councillor Peter Bentley put forward a motion to make parking in the CBD free to support local businesses at a Rotorua Lakes Council Operations and Monitoring Committee meeting on Thursday.

However, mayor Steve Chadwick said the move was not well thought through.

The move was voted down at the meeting with only three councillors, Bentley, Reynold Macpherson and Raj Kumar, in favour.

Advertisement

Bentley's motion was made shortly after local business owner Susan Jory launched a petition calling for free parking in the city last month.

Petitioner and local businesswoman Susan Jory. Photo / File
Petitioner and local businesswoman Susan Jory. Photo / File

Jory submitted her 2661-strong signature petition to the council on Thursday and told councillors her suggestion was not blanket free parking in the CBD.

Instead, she said "free, effectively managed two-hour parking" in the CBD would be the boost needed to stimulate the local economy now and in the future.

"Now is your chance to make this change. Build back better - build back a better and fairer parking system that's fit for purpose and which will encourage people to shop and eat and spend time in the CBD."

Jory said one of the comments on the petition said they no longer came into the CBD because the parking system was "a pain in the a***".

"I think that puts it quite succinctly," Jory said.

Council's operations manager Jocelyn Mikaere recommended the council "continue to support current free parking options in the city and direct officers to work with Inner City Business Group to review parking needs".

Council operations manager Jocelyn Mikaere says 61 per cent of CBD parking is already free. (Screengrab)
Council operations manager Jocelyn Mikaere says 61 per cent of CBD parking is already free. (Screengrab)

That business group had been set up as part of the response to Covid-19 and was populated by some city business leaders.

Advertisement

Mikaere said 61 per cent of parking in the CBD was already free, with time limits.

Bentley asked his motion be amended to scale back the suggestion, but committee chairwoman Tania Tapsell said it was not procedurally possible.

Chadwick said she did not think Bentley and Macpherson's motion was "well thought through".

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick. Photo / File
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick. Photo / File

"You don't make policy on the hoof. We have to have reports that show the background and how we came to reach the policy that was implemented after quite extensive consultation with the inner city business owners."

Chadwick said Macpherson came to her after last month's full council meeting and said her motion to move the discussion to the committee had been "a bit of political trickery".

"I didn't appreciate that," she said.

"It's very dangerous when political representatives make political spectacles of themselves about populist policy. We've got to be well-informed.

"That inner city sector group will look at how we can do the iterative changes that will soften the blow in the recovery period and bring back recommendations to council, and that is the right process."

Councillor Peter Bentley. Photo / File
Councillor Peter Bentley. Photo / File

The topic had elicited a war of words last month between Chadwick and Rotorua Residents and Ratepayers councillors Bentley and Macpherson following a council vote to defer the discussion to the committee meeting.

Deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said he shared Chadwick's view.

"Her Worship has stolen all of my lines, really.

"The original notice of motion would be ... the death knell of retail and hospitality if it was unfettered free parking.

"Unfortunately that wasn't translated to the motion on the table."

Macpherson said there had been a "great deal of disquiet" about the parking system and he "strongly supported" the original motion for free parking but with time limits.

Rotorua Lakes councillor Reynold Macpherson. Photo / File
Rotorua Lakes councillor Reynold Macpherson. Photo / File

"We need to send, at this time, a strong signal to CBD businesses that as elected representatives, we really care.

"Free parking ... must not mean a parking free-for-all. We need free parking with time limits.

"Many retailers ... are on the edge of insolvency. They need an immediate intervention."

Macpherson said it should be accompanied with a policy review and he wasn't "at all concerned" about further public consultation.

"It will simply reinforce what we have been told [on June 6]."

Bentley repeated earlier comments he had made on the topic at the full council meeting on May 19, saying it was the council's job to promote local businesses and encourage shoppers into the CBD.

At that time, he suggested two hours' free parking in the CBD "at least for the duration of the pandemic, during which time our officials monitor the parking habits and devise, in discussions with councillors, a workable, user-friendly parking policy".

The committee meeting on Thursday. (Screengrab)
The committee meeting on Thursday. (Screengrab)

Councillor Trevor Maxwell said he would not be supporting the motion.

"It just shows how impatient some people were ... who first of all had to deal through the media before we could even meet on this issue. It was horrible having to deal with this matter then.

"Finally, with patience, even the mover [Bentley] and seconder [Macpherson] are challenging how they felt about this notice of motion."

Subscribe to Premium