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Tuesday May 08, 2012

R8-an-hour parking fury

Joburg businesses and residents, inspired by the success of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance's tackling of e-tolling, are mobilising for a fight against paid kerbside parking.

The expensive scheme currently operational in Parkhurst is set to be implemented in another six areas from June 1. And with only three weeks to go, no consultation has taken place with councillors, businesses and residents.

Paid parking is to start in Rosebank, Roodepoort, Melville, Florida, Norwood and Fordsburg, and will cost R8 an hour. A month later, on July 1, this will be hiked to R8.50.

While Rosebank has not opposed the scheme, the other five areas claim this could spell the death knell for their declining business centres.

The CBDS in suburbs such as Roodepoort, Melville and Rosebank have slid into decline in recent years, and residents and businesses say the introduction of paid parking is going to chase businesses away and lead to further decline.

Although the system, run by Ace Parking, is ready to go, not one residents' association or councillor has been consulted, as required in terms of the contract.

The scheme has caused huge problems in Parkhurst, and its implementation was delayed to give the council time to consult residents and businesses.

Jo Pinheiro, founder of the Concerned World Class Citizens, a group formed to oppose paid kerbside parking in the suburbs, said they had already requested the tender and council documents from the city through their lawyers and had only received six of the 12.

"The city is obviously stalling while it extends the scheme to other areas. There are many similarities with the e-tolling case and this has given us a new impact and a ray of hope. We are waiting to get a copy of the final judgment and then we will galvanise support in our fight. Paid parking is killing business in Parkhurst," he said.

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 Joburg metro police department, who regularly conducted raids and confiscated pavement tables and chairs.

"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 drive both customers and businesses out of here," and property values would start dropping, he said.

The Melville's Ratepayers' Association has also been trying to revitalise the area.

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

"We have had no discussions or warnings that it was 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."

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

Jenny Alexander of the Rosebank Management District said it would be good if implemented in the right streets.

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. Roodepoort CBD traders have also had no official notification about paid parking, and councillor Mariane Kemp expects an outcry. "This paid parking is just going to chase people away and lead to further decline," she said.

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

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

In Parkhurst, there is still opposition to the plan. Cheryl Labuschagne, chairwoman of the Parkhurst Village Ratepayers' and Business Owners' Association, said paid parking had caused a downturn in business, and some owners were reconsidering their options.

The Star

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