Just before Christmas last year, the Rotorua District Council introduced a free parking trial in our central city. It was a roaring success. Town was buzzing and the parks were full.

Few central city workers flouted the trial, shoppers were happy and inner-city retailers wanted it permanent to breathe life back into our struggling CBD.

Doubters said the trial was only a success because of the timing, saying the weeks before Christmas were always going to be busy.

I was one of those who thought that. It's hardly a trial when for some, the weeks before Christmas are the only days they ever come to the central city.


Now I'm looking forward to being proved wrong.

The council is introducing another free parking temporary trial - this time for 19 months.

The cynics might question the timing of such a Christmas present (being just weeks out from the local body elections) but who cares? If it works to make our CBD better, then why wait any longer?

I have been told by one central city retailer he knows of Reporoa locals who choose to shop in Taupo ahead of Rotorua purely because it has free parking. It's ridiculous, but true.

I look forward to seeing the results of this trial and hope it's the start of a thriving town centre.

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