Councillor Vincent De Luca OAM has hosed down rumours that beach parking restrictions have been changed to 1-hour for this summer.

Vincent De Luca

Vincent De Luca

Speculation was raised on a Facebook community group, apparently fuelled by rumours from a surf club, that parking was being restricted to 1-hour at beach car parks to encourage social distancing due to COVID-19.

Cr De Luca says he has been contacted by a number of residents and checked with Northern Beaches Council CEO Ray Brownlee, who said;

“No decisions have been made regarding the beach parking for this summer season. Our Incident Management Team is currently working on a summer COVID plan for our beaches, with the Police and NSW Health. We will be discussing the plan with the Councillors.”

With a limited ability for people to travel interstate or overseas, concern has been raised over a possible influx of visitors to the Northern Beaches this summer and the potential risk for increased COVID-19 transmission.

A council source has told the Northern Beaches Advocate that a number of options are ‘on the table’ for consideration to discourage crowding at beaches this summer. These may include changes to parking time limits and/or the cost of parking meters but no decisions have yet been made.

Local business groups may be less keen to restrict visitors, with many relying on increased summer trade, particularly for the hospitality industry which has been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions.

Mayor Michael Regan

Michael Regan

Another change mooted for beach parking is the implementation of digital parking permits. A number of Councillors have called for the end to the ‘black market’ sale of council parking permits.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan has confirmed the digital beach parking permit is being actively investigated for next year.

“Council has a long-term plan to trial and introduce a digital parking permit system, however we are only at the initial stages. Once we have a real proposal which considers all the implications and logistics, it will be bought to the community for comment. While we are only in the very early stages, our aim is to have a digital system in place by 2021/22.”

David Walton

David Walton

Cr David Walton, a former Northern Beaches senior police officer, is strongly in favour of the change to a digital permit system.

“I have been pushing for this for three years to bring a halt to the black market and improve parking efficiency. Digital parking systems are tried and true technology and they can be had off the shelf. This is low-hanging fruit,” said Cr Walton.

Asked about whether people could simply switch from selling their physical sticker to selling their digital entitlement, Cr Walton said it would not be so easy.

“Councils are part of a Transport for NSW system called Drives, which allows them to connect to the vehicle registration database. Council can tell if vehicles are registered to an address within the local government area.”

Image: Northern Beaches Advocate