BUSINESS owners and staff in the Bathurst central business district are set to pay a high price for a state government “gift” to the people of Bathurst.
There was always a level of suspicion surrounding the state government handing over ownership of the old TAFE building on William Street to Bathurst Regional Council, but few saw this fight on the horizon.
As part of the hand over deal, council has also taken ownership of around 6000 square metres of land along William and Howick streets, including a number of parking areas behind the main buildings.
And just what should be done with those areas is the subject of real anger among local businesses now.
Councillors have agreed to a recommendation from staff to establish paid parking on all of those lots, with two to be leased to businesses and the third available for metered parking.
The recommendation prompted a huge response on the Western Advocate Facebook page, with more than 180 readers commenting on our report and very few having anything nice to say about the plan.
Most saw it is just another cash grab from council that would hurt small businesses.
The ongoing problem for council, of course, is that its own quarantining of public car spaces along William Street and down Court House Lane for its own vehicles to park free all day has left it open to accusations of appalling double standards – and it’s hard to argue with that view.
Businesses who pay handsome rates to council cannot understand why they are being slugged further to provide parking for staff when council simply has to erect another street sign to grab a few more spots for those working in the civic centre.
Every other business in the CBD would love to have that power.
So it’s not hard to see why businesses would react badly when council proposes to start slugging them to park where they’ve been parking for nothing for many years now.
CBD parking will always be a bone of contention for business owners, shoppers, staff and council, and it might be that a multi-level car park that has never got past the planning stage will finally provide some answers.
But even if that project eventually goes ahead, it will not quell the anger over council taking public car spaces as its own.
Some wrongs can never be made right.