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http://www.news.com.au/sundaytelegraph/story/0,22049,21917075-5001021,00.html

A SHOPPER boycott has forced removal of parking meters from Sydney's most famous beachside strip in a sign councils are losing the war over parking charges.

Parking meters will be scrapped on Bondi's Campbell Parade in a trial to give motorists up to four hours' free parking in 29 bays opposite Australia's iconic beach.

Waverley Mayor George Newhouse told The Sunday Telegraph the hated meters would disappear as early as next week to revive retail trade along the strip, battered by wet weather and competition from Bondi Junction shops.

The latest of several council backdowns, the move shows the floodgates may be opening as motorists and small traders battle rampant city parking restrictions.

Leichhardt Council has introduced 15 minutes' free parking while Newcastle City Councilis considering a similar move.

The Bondi plan goes further, allowing at least a free half-hour.

Bondi traders have called for cheaper parking for years, blaming council restrictions for a slump and shop closures.

Mr Newhouse, who will move for the change at Tuesday's council meeting, said he was responding to shopkeepers' concerns.

"I've been talking to businesses down at Bondi and they're really struggling,'' he said.

"If business is saying parking metres are the reason customers aren't coming, I'll take them out.''

Under the plan, meters will be removed along four blocks of Campbell Pde, from Lamrock Ave to Beach Rd, for a winter trial period until the end of September.

If successful, free parking will become a feature on Campbell Pde in winter months.

Between 8am and 6pm, motorists will be allowed to park for half an hour. After 6pm, they will get up to four hours free.

Mr Newhouse said the cost of removing six meters was yet to be finalised, but foregone revenue would be "tens of thousands''.

Councils reap millions from parking meters, with Waverley raking in up to $5 million a year.

Mr Newhouse said other factors, including high rents, bad weather and competition from Bondi Junction, contributed to Campbell Pde's problems, but councils had to be flexible.

"There's a time when you need parking meters and a time when you don't,'' he said.

Suffering retailers along Campbell Pde welcomed the decision.

Bondi Chamber of Commerce vice-president Max Siano said it is pleasing to see a council finally moving in the right direction.

"Winter time at Bondi Beach is almost as if it's a coffin time, when everything is dead. This has been a festering problem for two years, so it's wonderful to have the meters pulled out,'' he said.

Ray Wessell, a Max's Shoes assistant for 12 years, says there has been a sales decline recently.

"It's been really bad ... it's a combination of factors,'' he said.

"You've got parking rangers here giving people $70 fines - it's a case of once bitten, twice shy,so maybe the free parking will bring a few people back.''
 

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I used to fix those parking meters way back when. They were always getting damaged. I found an axe sticking out of one once.
 
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