Parking debacle: DCC makes 150 changes

Syd Brown
Syd Brown
A raft of parking changes made in Dunedin during the past few months appears to have brought the debacle of the Dunedin City Council's new parking strategy to a close.

As many as 150 changes have taken place as a working party worked through about 175 complaints, and now the council has called for an independent report to discover how it got the strategy so wrong.

Deputy Mayor Syd Brown said yesterday he did not realise how the strategy would affect some areas and "common sense" should have been applied to the document before its release.

In July last year, the council introduced a new four-zone parking system for the central city, with parking fees increasing to $4 an hour in central George St, $3 an hour in streets in surrounding blocks, decreasing to $2 or $1 an hour two to three blocks from George St.

As well, 153 new pay-and-display parking machines were installed around the city and the majority of five-minute parks removed.

The move prompted a furious reaction from city businesses and, later in the year, tariffs were reduced, as were maximum time limits, among other changes.

Surveys were instigated to gather data, and a parking review working party of city councillors and community representatives, headed by Cr Brown, was set up to deal with the many complaints the council received.

Yesterday, Cr Brown said that work had been completed.

"The review made substantial changes to parking across the city, particularly in the central business district.

A final package of 27 cases had been dealt with and the working party granted requested changes in 95% of those cases.

Cr Brown said changes requested and granted included moving P5 spaces and a bus stop.

Age Concern's grievance over people picking up Meals on Wheels in Bath St was also addressed.

Some requests were considered unreasonable by the working party and not everybody got their way.

An independent report would be written on the strategy's release to discover "how we could have interacted better, so we can learn and go forward", Cr Brown said.

"It's not about going back and criticising."

Asked what he thought had gone wrong, Cr Brown said from his perspective, "we didn't inform the public enough of what the policy change would implement on the ground".

"I didn't realise some of the changes on the ground that were wrapped up in the policy."

An example was pay-and-display machines installed outside the Speights brewery, prompting complaints that drivers had to feed the meters when they filled containers with spring water.

"No-one in their right mind, if they'd known, would have allowed that.

"There has to be a common sense rule of thumb put over the final detail.

"I would hope the council would learn from the experience."

Frederick St business owner Mandy Smart, who lobbied hard against the changes, said problems in her area with the new scheme had been rectified.

"It seems to be working," she said, although it had taken much effort to get the changes made.

The parking working party, which included representatives from the council, the Otago Chamber of Commerce, a community representative, the Otago District Health Board and the University of Otago, would continue to meet as needed to deal any further issues.

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