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Plans for new parking scheme in Hamilton

Charles Gosling

A new parking scheme could soon be introduced in Hamilton to address the loss of parking revenue, according to Charles Gosling, the mayor.

While he said the council of the Corporation of Hamilton has already agreed to consider closing off at least one parking lot for all-day parking at a set fee, the proposal must first be approved by Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy, who retains stewardship of the administration.

Mr Gosling said this week that court rulings regarding the municipality’s parking policy have cost the corporation more than $1 million per year in revenue.

“The whole clamping ordinance has been thrown out,” he said. “It’s sitting right now in the Attorney-General’s chambers and we have been promised a preliminary draft of a working ordinance that was promised several weeks ago. We have yet to get to see that documentation.

“In this week’s public meeting, this very issue was raised and we are looking at actually closing off one of the city car parks and having that only available for daylong parking at a set fee.

“That will be manned and, when the parking lot is full, the barrier will go down.

“Obviously, the driver will be able to leave the car park whenever they want to, but others will not be able to gain entrance.

“That will be our way to ensure that at least we are getting virtually 100 per cent revenue from the car park.

“We will be looking to roll that out to all the city car parks. I don’t have a timeframe, but we will be looking at expanding that.”

However, he then added: “The one proviso for that is the minister still has stewardship.

“He still has the right to review our resolutions and he still has the right to say or not to say if any resolution is passed.

“He has a five-working day timeframe from receiving notice of this to say if the resolution is going to stand.”

He also said that the council has agreed to form a committee to help to create new legislation to regulate the municipalities, noting that the existing Act has been repeatedly amended over the years.

“We really need to get a clear, clean Act, one which is going to establish much clearer policies on the Government, on the organisation to create accountability and create protection,” he said.

“There is a big argument within certain circles of Government — it was certainly there in the past government and I believe it’s still there with the current government — about the need for a municipality.

“It’s a small country and do we need one body watching over one square mile and another taking care of the remaining 20 square miles?

“I would say there is, but the focus of the corporation should be more business-related — providing the services, providing the opportunity for investment and development within the city. Its focus should be there.

“For most of its 200 years, the corporation has been well run.

“It has been an asset and it has been an asset that became more and more valuable year after year.

“It should give the Government the confidence to say this is taken care of; let’s look at the other 20 miles.”

Asked about another lingering issue in the city — the homeless — he noted that the previous administration had created a committee to look at the issue and that he had been told that a report on their findings is forthcoming.

“Unfortunately, with the committee, while there was co-operation from various government departments, I really feel that it is necessary for this to be a committee that is co-chaired by somebody from the corporation and somebody from a government ministry in order to get any true action,” he said.

“Reading the minutes of previous meetings, the chairman was complaining about fewer and fewer bodies showing up for the meetings.

“Until there is an ownership on Government’s side of helping the corporation work on this, it will continue to just be a subject to debate.”

He also noted the recent proposal to use the former Bishop Spencer School to house a new emergency housing facility, which could help to address the issue, but said the corporation was not involved in that project.