I know many in our community were frustrated when council was required to amend its Parking Enforcement Policy in 2021 to align with requirements under the NSW Road Rules 2014. In particular, the requirements of Rule 197, which prohibits parking on footpaths and nature strips.
At last week's council meeting, councillors resolved to take steps to attempt to have this rule overturned by the NSW Minister for Transport.
Prior to the 2021 changes, Cessnock City Council had in place a local 'three-metre rule'. This allowed for parking on the nature strip if there was no kerb present and the vehicle was no closer than three metres from the property boundary.
Unfortunately, this was not in line with the NSW road rules. This change has contributed to much frustration in the local community, and understandably so. As a council, we are required to conform to State Government regulations, which means the ability to have local rules in place for parking is simply not allowed.
I firmly believe there should be an amendment to the Road Rules 2014 to allow some councils to put local parking rules in place, particularly in regional areas where many properties have large nature strips on which vehicles can safely park without obstructing roads or pedestrian access.
At last week's council meeting, I put forward a Mayoral Minute to address this ongoing parking issue. The Mayoral Minute proposed to write to the Minister for Transport, David Elliott, and the Member for Cessnock, Clayton Barr, to request an exemption to Rule 197 that would permit councils to allow parking on nature strips.
I am pleased to say this Mayoral Minute was unanimously supported by all councillors in attendance. I hope this letter sparks the start of a conversation about this ongoing issue and leads to change, not only for the Cessnock City Local Government Area, but any regional council facing similar issues. I believe it's important to allow councils to make these important local decisions, particularly when they are in the best interests of their community.
Other good news from the council meeting saw a resolution passed that will allow residents to engage eligible businesses to collect their bulk waste, using the resident's council waste voucher, and transport it to the waste centre on their behalf. This is a positive step for residents who do not have the means to transport bulk waste themselves.
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