By CHRISTIAN STANGER
DIGRUNTLED Burleigh Heads shop owners have called a crisis meeting to bring the recent parking fee hike issue to a head.
They argue Burleigh Heads may become a ghost town if the Gold Coast City Council doesn't change the parking strategy.
Parking meters, which were introduced by council in February, have become a major talking point in the Burleigh CBD where parking rates have shot up and fines have more than doubled, persuading people to shop elsewhere where parking is free.
Local business owner Alan Parker of The Village Book Exchange said his business is taking considerably less compared to this time last year and he claims some of his colleagues aren't faring much better.
"Empty parking spaces are not good for business in Burleigh and that's what we have day after day, it's a huge problem," Mr Parker said.
"We've had a few businesses close down since the meters came in and more will follow if something isn't done. Even the banks and the post office are feeling it."
Mr Parker's fellow business owners, residents and shoppers will have the chance to voice their opinions on the parking strategy at an upcoming public meeting to be held at Fradgley Hall (above the library) on Wednesday April 5 from 6pm-8pm.
"At the meeting we hope to give a voice to the various parts of the community that are concerned about the parking strategy and the idea of this is to get a vehicle through which people can talk to the council and to make the council accountable," Mr Parker said.
The public meeting will address several concerns which were raised by the business community and shoppers alike including complaints the machines were not customer friendly and were consistently broken, the machines were inconvenient and did not give change.
Mr Parker said it was up to council to ensure the economic survival of Burleigh Heads but this parking strategy was not the way to go.
"I think council's claims that it's good for business is a load of hogwash to put it frankly," he said.
"How can it be good for business when people are deterred from coming to Burleigh and businesses are being forced to close down.
"The whole of Burleigh Heads is now in danger of going under if council doesn't do something about the parking strategy and if this council doesn't listen, they won't get back in."
For information call 5535 9466.