Bathurst shoppers and workers pay a high price for outstaying their welcome

PARKING MAD: Bathurst Chamber of Commerce president wants council to address parking for CBD workers.
PARKING MAD: Bathurst Chamber of Commerce president wants council to address parking for CBD workers.

PARKING fines in the Bathurst region jumped by almost 40 per cent in the last financial year as council’s investment in mobile enforcement really started to pay dividends.

Bathurst Regional Council parking officers wrote a total of 2155 fines in the 12 months to June 30 – 598 more than the previous year.

Motorists who overstayed their welcome in the CBD contributed $271,608 to council coffers in the 12-month period, $69,354 more than in 2014-15.

Figures from the NSW Office of State Revenue show October was the most lucrative month for council with officers writing 224 fines – an average of seven a day.

News of the boom in parking fines comes as council plans to install new paid parking zones in three areas behind the old TAFE building on William Street.

Councillors last month approved a proposal to lease around 20 car spaces to nearby businesses for around $1000 a year and provide about 18 spots for timed public parking at $2 an hour.

The plan has angered business owners whose staff already park in those spots to avoid walking long distances to their cars after dark.

Bathurst Chamber of Commerce president Stacey Whittaker said parking for CBD workers, in particular, needed to be addressed by council.

She proposed a multi-level car park be built behind the Bathurst RSL with one level set aside for RSL patrons and one or two levels earmarked for all-day parking for CBD workers.

“It would need to be paid parking but council has to be realistic – maybe $3 a day rather than $2 an hour,” Ms Whittaker said.

“There is also an area on Russell Street opposite the court house that could be all-day parking and the section on William Street between Keppel and Russell streets.”

Ms Whittaker said council also had an obligation to play by the same rules as other CBD businesses and objected to council quarantining dozens of on-street car spaces for council vehicles.

“I think council should cut back its own on-street parks because they should not have privileges that are not available to everyone else in the CBD,” she said.

“Businesses now have to provide so many car spots for their staff so I think council should have to follow the same rules.”

Ms Whittaker said the chamber would welcome the opportunity to talk about parking with council.

“We often don’t get asked for input from council, they like to make their own decisions which can be a worry when there aren’t that many business people on council,” she said.

“I think it’s important to have someone there who understands the challenges businesses are facing.”

Despite the surge in parking fines for council, though, Bathurst motorists still fared much better than their neighbours.

Orange parking rangers wrote 4354 fines in 2015/16 (worth $505,735), even without mobile parking enforcement for most of the year.

Dubbo rangers issued 1136 fines, worth $140,614.