STOPPING FINES: Caloundra’s “meter mates” rub shoulders with Bulcock Street Traders spokeswoman Selina Smith, the one without the sash.
STOPPING FINES: Caloundra’s “meter mates” rub shoulders with Bulcock Street Traders spokeswoman Selina Smith, the one without the sash. John Mccutcheon

Meter Mates: Caloundra traders make their point on meters

CALOUNDRA business owners have donned sashes and taken to the streets to top up the only parking meters in the entire region.

But they weren't dressed in bikinis and Akubra hats, like the iconic meter maids on the Gold Coast.

Caloundra's "meter mates" dressed in streetwear to top up the meters they believe are affecting their bottom line.

Bulcock Street Traders spokeswoman Selina Smith, the owner of a swimwear business in the street, said there were no parking meters "in Maroochydore or Maleny, so why Caloundra?"

Should the parking meters in Caloundra be removed?

This poll ended on 16 August 2016.

Current Results

Yes

90%

No

8%

Keep them, I like the Meter Mates being around

0%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The traders, combined with the Caloundra branch of the Labor Party, formed the "meter mates" to patrol the streets for two hours on Saturday mornings.

The Labor Party's Caloundra branch president Jason Hunt helped spearhead the campaign.

"Recently we collected a petition with over 2500 signatures supporting the removal of paid parking from Bulcock Street," Mr Hunt said.

"The removal of parking meters would be a stimulus to local businesses who just want to keep operating and providing important services to their customers."

Ms Smith said the parking meters were an issue the traders had been trying to raise with the council "for years".

"We have a constant argument with the council to get rid of them, but they will not listen to us," she said.

"We want to make people aware we are not in favour of meters - it is out of our hands.

"We've had customers (who received fines) saying they will not be coming back to Caloundra.

"It's awful because we don't want the meters either. We are caught.

"This is our way of protesting. We are getting volunteers to go up and down the street and top the meters up.

"We hope to run it every weekend until the school holidays."

Ms Smith said the traders did not believe parking meters were the sole problem behind the main street's slump in trade.

"Some traders blame the meters for all the problems," she said.

"It is a problem, but it is not the entire problem.

"We understand about $400,000 a year is collected from the meters."

Mr Hunt said the parking meters were "disadvantaging the town of Caloundra and businesses".

"Someone needs to sit down and have a chat. We believe the meters should have free time before people start paying," he said.

"This will encourage people to come back to Caloundra.

"No one is suggesting this is the only reason (for poor trade), but people who come here and get stung with a fine say they will never come back."

Caloundra CBD curator Drew Westbrook supported the Meter Mates initiative as it brought businesses together.

"It has worked on the Gold Coast for a long time and is a good promotional aspect," he said.

However, he, too, did not believe paid parking was the source of the CBD's woes.

"Parking is an issue every

where in the world. I don't necessarily believe paid parking is the big hurdle it is made out to be," he said.

"There are plenty of areas that don't charge for parking and yet still suffer from the downturn in trade."

He said the money from the meters was being used for the Bulcock St upgrade.

"Other places would love to have the revenue spent on streetcaping Caloundra will benefit from," he said.

Caloundra councillor Tim Dwyer said the money provided benefits Caloundra did not necessarily see.

However, his view on meters might change, he said, if the council did not approve them across the region as part of its yet-to-be finalised parking strategy.

"At the end of day, if paid parking is not rolled out across the Coast, I would have no problem asking for the meters to be turned off, if the Chamber of Commerce supported it," he said.



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