Rockingham business owners plea for parking remedy

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Railway Terrace.
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The reduction of parking times across the Rockingham foreshore has left many business owners questioning their viability.

It comes amid a climate in which ongoing foreshore works have forced some to lay off staff and left others on the verge of collapse.

At the December 18 City of Rockingham council meeting, Vat 116 and Latitude 32 owner Marc Kenley addressed councillors, airing his concerns about the drop in parking bays and the introduction of tighter parking times along the foreshore.

During the meeting, Mr Kenley said he was concerned carparks along the foreshore strip were “vanishing by the minute” and said that the area had been stripped of car bays during the ongoing foreshore project works.

“In the place of car bays being stripped, the City has implemented 30-minute time limits, yet the motorcycle bays still have two-hour limits,” he said.

Mr Kenley questioned how diners were expected to have a meal within a 30-minute timeframe, which he said was not practical, and said many were being dissuaded from visiting restaurants and cafes along the foreshore.

The works along the foreshore over the previous four months already had a huge impact on business according to Mr Kenley, who said he had been forced to let go of several staff members.

“Sales have been down astronomically and I’ve had to lay off seven casual staff and four full-time staff,” he said.

“Why crucify the people who are trying to trade here?”

Steel Tree Foreshore owner Clint Wilcox said the works had also had a huge impact on his business, which had seen a 70 per cent downturn and a loss of more than at least $20,000 a week.

The downturn in trade has also forced Mr Wilcox to lay off more than 50 per cent of his staff and personally take on their hours.

Mr Wilcox said about 80 per cent of his clients during the day were elderly, and that due to the distribution and restrictions on parking, Steel Tree had lost this trade completely.

Mr Wilcox said he was on the verge of closing Steel Tree at the end of November, but he secured a loan to try and help him make it through the summer period while the works were halted temporarily.

He said business had not improved since the barricading was removed and that the parking restrictions didn’t leave people enough time to even grab a coffee and cake once they walked to his venue.

Mayor Barry Sammels addressed Mr Kenley’s concerns during the meeting and pointed to the addition of parking bays in the area once the privately built Wanliss Street Marina was complete (although a construction date has not yet been decided), and suggested parking at the Gary Holland Centre as an alternative option.

During the meeting, councillor Joy Stewart moved a motion, passed unanimously, for the City’s chief executive to investigate further options at the foreshore to increase parking capacity in the short term, to compensate for the on-street parking reduction as a result of the works.

Although Mr Kenley called for the foreshore works to be pushed back to winter, Mr Sammels said contracts already in place required the works to resume in February.

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