An hour’s free parking in the Rotorua CBD appears to have caught councillors by surprise.
Cr Charles Sturt was caught in the park lights when news of the free park was conveyed at this week’s meeting of the Rotorua Lakes Council’s operations and monitoring committee/hui.
Henry Weston, the council’s strategy officer, raised the matter after he and his 2IC Neven Hill detailed the use of new card parking meters.
In a presentation, the officers showed orange bits in the CBD where the meters were placed.
But it was news that the first hour of parking was free which caught Cr Sturt, the meeting chairman, unawares.
“That’s amazing,” Charles told Henry.
The issue was raised by Cr Trevor Maxwell who sought amplification of the innovative council measure.
Henry says the area coloured orange on the presentation meant shoppers could park for an hour without penalty. But they would be charged the whole time of occupation should shoppers park beyond that timeframe or say two and three hours.
“The first 60 minutes is on fee,” Henry says. “You can’t stay longer that 60 minutes. The whole point of that area was to give people the opportunity to come in, spend time and move out.”
Neven Hill, planning and development solutions officer, had earlier said the system was not flawless yet, but, Weston added, the council was dealing with a system that is “progressively going to improve and hear the feedback and keep improving”.
The rationale behind the first free 60 minutes was “turnover”, Henry says.
The additional 50c bank fee impost was, when broken down, not so great really, for 60 minutes, Henry says. He says there was a bit of myth and reality about this.
Every second machine was a coin machine, standard practice across the country.
Charles says a PR job was needed. “I wasn’t aware that 60 minutes was still free in the CBD – that’s amazing it’s still in place. I think the general confusion out there; that’s a big attraction to come into the CBD.”
Were penalties high should the 60 minutes free park be exceeded?
Hill: No. The penalties are set by [the] government and are standard across New Zealand. The first infringement fee is $12.
Cr Raj Kumar says most of the tourists who came to Rotorua were familiar with the machines. His family who came from Auckland, using his credit card he says, had no problems. Initially he had not supported the switch to modernise the meters, but now it was here “let’s support it”.
Mayor Steve Chadwick says some who were challenged by the technology didn’t know where to press the start button on the machine. She had seen people floundering and had helped them out.