Retailers hold rally against paid parking

Kristin MacfarlaneSouth Western Times

Quality customer service is what business owners in the Bunbury CBD love to provide, but one retailer says it's hard to do when no one is walking inside their stores.

This was part of a speech made by Sabotage owner Megan Gianfrancesco to a crowd of about 100 business owners, community leaders and members of the public as part of a public rally organised by The Retail Co.

Mrs Gianfrancesco said during her 16 years of running a business in Victoria Street she had seen the demise of businesses caused by people wanting to avoid paid parking and look towards online shopping.

"Customer service is something we love giving but if there's nobody walking in the store then we can't give it," Mrs Gianfrancesco said.

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"I really do know all about the parking meters and online shopping," she said.

She said the CBD was the heart of the city, but the more businesses suffered the less heart the city would have.

"That will cause a much bigger problem."

Founder of The Retail Co and owner of Bunbury Hi-fi Cheryl Kozisek opened the rally outside the Rose Hotel this afternoon.

She said although she was pleased the City of Bunbury had conducted a survey looking into the public's experiences in the CBD, paid parking needed to be acknowledged as the biggest problem for retailers and customers.

She believed some comments made by Mayor Gary Brennan in the media this week deflected the problem from paid parking to the service given by businesses.

"We are here because we do not feel that the Bunbury City Council have heard our requests for a relaxation in paid parking in the CBD," Mrs Kozisek said.

She said retailers were still seeking the changes proposed by the council as well as having the first two hours of parking free in street parking, increasing free parking at shopper carparks to three hours and having all day Saturday free for all.

"Businesses in the CBD, like all other businesses are confronted with substantial leases, skyrocketing insurance premiums, increased utility charges, increasing council rates, online shopping, expansion of shopping centres such as Eaton, the opening of Dalyellup and Treendale Shopping centres and more government red tape," Mrs Kozisek said.

"The paid parking issue in Bunbury is an add-on that the CBD businesses are finding is having a major effect on their viability.

"Perhaps we need to discuss the complete removal of the parking meters and encourage all to come back into the CBD, without fear of a parking ticket," she said.

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