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Fury over R8-an-hour Gauteng parking

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IOL mot may8 paid parking

INLSA

Run-down suburban commercial areas such as 4th Street in Melville are already very quiet. Traders fear paid parking will sound theur death-knell. Picture: Moeletsi Mabe

The paid kerbside parking that will roll out to six new suburbs on June 1 could be the death knell for some declining business centres around the city, say businesses.

The paid parking will start in Rosebank, Roodepoort, Melville, Florida, Norwood and Fordsburg, and will cost R8 an hour, rising to R8.50 by July 1.

But many of the CBD’s in these suburbs have slid into decline in recent years, and residents and businesses claim that the introduction of paid parking will chase businesses away and lead to further decline.

Although the system, run by Ace Parking, is set to roll out in only three weeks, not one residents’ association or councillor has been consulted, as required in terms of the contract.

NO CONSULTATION

This caused huge problems in Parkhurst, the first area in which the parking was rolled out, and caused a delay in implementation to give the council time to consult residents and businesses.

In Norwood, businesses say this will be the final straw in the decline of the area.

Nick Obel, who owns a hotel in Grant Avenue and who has been trying to mobilise businesses into upgrading the area, said it was bad enough fighting the Johannesburg metro police department, who conducted regular raids and confiscated tables and chairs on the pavements.

He said: “While we don’t condone transgression of the by-laws, the raids are being done at month-end when the few people who still come to Grant Avenue are here. Now the paid parking is going to be a disaster. It is going to drive both customers and businesses out of here.”

“Property values will then start dropping.”

Melville is experiencing similar problems. The Melville Rate-payers’ Association has also been trying to revitalise the area.

The association’s Nicky Rofail said there had been no communication about the paid parking.

She said: “We have had no discussions or warnings that it is about to be implemented. We do not want paid parking between 8am and 5pm. We need it at night when people park all over the place.

“We are working on upgrading 7th Street and getting the right mix of tenants, but this is going to chase people away. People will start using the side streets.

“The only positive aspect is that the car guards will be controlled.”

In Rosebank, the move is welcomed, but clarification is needed.

Jenny Alexander, of the Rosebank Management District, said it was welcomed if implemented in the right streets.

Illegal parking by taxis caused problems, as did employees taking up shoppers’ spaces, she said.

Lael Bethlehem, of the Rosebank Central Improvement District, said that in principle they were not against it, but there should be proper consultation before implementation, which had not happened.

She said: “This needs to be discussed because we haven’t been informed where or how it will work.”

Roodepoort CBD traders have also had no official notification about the impending paid parking scheme.

Councillor Mariane Kemp expects an outcry.

She said: “Everybody knows the bad state the Roodepoort CBD is in. There are plans in the pipeline to upgrade the area, but this parking is just going to chase people away and lead to further decline.

Mike Clark, the director of Servest Parking, under which Ace Parking Systems falls, confirmed that the plan was to start implementation by June 1.

He said it was the responsibility of the council to communicate the plans with residents and councillors.

“Ace has placed adverts in local papers and distributed flyers where possible. We are finding that there is a wider public understanding and buy-in of the scheme,” he said.

In Parkhurst, however, there is still great opposition to the plan.

A campaign has been launched encouraging motorists to park in the side streets. Posters have been placed all over the area.

Cheryl Labuschagne, chairwoman of the Parkhurst Village Ratepayers’ and Business Owners’ Association, said the paid parking had definitely caused a downturn in business, and some owners were reconsidering their options. - The Star

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