Airport parking fee on the cards

RESIDENTS in the Ballina Shire are one step closer to having to pay for parking at the airport.

The council’s airport committee last night voted to scrap the residents’exemption, which has allowed locals to park free for up to two hours.

If approved at the council’s ordinary meeting later this month the changes will come into effect in September.

But committee chairman, Cr Alan Brown, said the $2 fee was a small price to pay if the council wanted toimprove facilities at the airport.

“Ratepayers do not contribute one cent to the operations of this airport. It’s a stand-alone business,” he said.

“We need to look at this on a commercial basis.

“We are not trying to money-grab.

“It’s a business, not a fairytale for the residents here.”

Cr Robyn Hordern said the $2 charge was ‘not that much to ask for’.

“It’s a very low cost. I would behappy to pay that,” she said.

However, mayor Phillip Silver and Cr Sue Meehan had some concerns, saying imposing a fee on residents would increase the number of people doing pick-ups and drop-offs.

“I think people will wait in the streets outside the airport,” Cr Meehan said.

“They will get a text saying, ‘come pick me up’.

“We are going to need a bigger pick-up and set-down area.”

Cr Silver said installing boom gates could solve many of the parking problems at the Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport.

Airport manager Neil Weatherson agreed they were the preferred solution to ‘reduce the stress’.

However, civil services group manager John Truman told the committee that while it was feasible, it would be very expensive.

An option to provide free parking for 15 minutes was also dismissed because of the cost of employing someone to enforce it.

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