I mentioned this last week with Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan and it's now confirmed that the City of Bunbury has lost tens of thousands of dollars of revenue due to a change of parking policy in the Bunbury CBD.
And whether there has been a discernable increase in CBD shopping is still open to some conjecture.
These points, and the possibility of a return to paid parking will be discussed at a public meeting in the near future where figures and future projections will be discussed with rate payers given the chance to comment and ask questions.
For me the same questions remain:
Did the change work?
Just how much revenue has been/will be lost?
What programs did not/will not go ahead because of the lost revenue?
What grants are affected?
What works in the city are affected?
Would this whole thing have happened if there had not been an election on the horizon and councillors did not want to get the handful of people who actually vote off side?
This issue is not new, however the times are very different. Greater Bunbury has expanded at an incedible rate especially in the last 15 years with new shopping centres and upgrades for existing centres in and around Bunbury CBD.
Shopping habits have changed too. Bought much online lately?
One over riding factor remains to be considered, laziness.
Shoppers want to go to a store in the CBD and EXPECT to get a spot right in front of the store rather than walk 50 or 100 metres from a free parking area.
This is also not unique to Bunbury. A councillor I spoke to in the Goldfields told me they have the same attitude.
A retailer I have spoken to says the inequality of parking policies should be considered. Free parking at The Forum, Parks Centre, Plaza or Eaton Fair makes for a very tough fight for the shopping dollar. "Each shopping precinct should be treated the same"
Do I have an answer to all this, nope. Minds far superior to mine are trying to find one and I hope they do.
Retail is a minefield at the moment, like they say, the times they are a changin' and not always for the better.