POLL: City parking meters on new council's agenda

PARKING meters will be in the firing line when the new Newcastle City Council meets for the first time next week.

Liberal and Labor councillors have lodged competing motions, with some subtle differences, that both seek to curtail the impact of inner-city parking meters.

The debate will be considered a litmus test for the working relationship of the council’s two largest groups, and whether they can compromise on detail to work towards a common goal.

The Liberal councillors’ motion asks council staff to consider the introduction of two hours of free parking, and free weekend parking, when developing an operational plan for the 2013-14 financial year.

The Labor-backed motion calls for city-wide free weekend parking to begin immediately.

Liberal councillor Lisa Tierney and Labor’s Nuatali Nelmes  said yesterday they hoped council colleagues would support their plans.

Liberal councillors have also called for increased time limits for parking meters at weekends, investigation into ways to increase the number of parking spaces in the city, and an immediate halt to plans to roll out extra parking meters.

Labor councillors also oppose the further roll-out of meters.

‘‘It is recognised that there will be financial consequences as the council has become partly dependent on parking revenue,’’ the Liberal motion said.

‘‘This motion is designed to fully consider these financial and future project implications before a final decision is made.

‘‘It is also recognised that direct financial implications may be offset in the longer term from the wider positive effects that will flow from attracting new business and investment.’’

Cr Nelmes said she did not believe ‘‘blanket two hours free parking’’ would work everywhere in the city.

She said it was financially viable to deliver free weekend parking immediately, and suggested more 15-minute or half-hour free meters could be introduced in specific areas.

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