A 'RED Army' of residents protested in a revolt against a Byron Shire Council proposal to pay for carparking in Brunswick Heads on Saturday.
Three hundred activists dressed in red, shouted slogans, and shook placards, at the Brunswick Hotel, calling for council to get its 'Hands off Bruns' and for councillors to vote 'No to Paid Parking' on Thursday, November 23.
Eleven speakers spoke against proposal, including Byron Shire councillor Allan Hunter, several small business owners and comedian Mandy Nolan.
Terrace Espresso Bar and Café chef, Jo Baker, said employees and patrons would be negatively affected, even with the option of an annual $50-parking pass, like the one offered in Byron Bay.
"Working in hospitality is hard enough as it is, please don't make us fight for our jobs by bringing in paid parking.
"If turnover drops, this sadly means job losses and this could include me.”
Brunswick resident Vivienne Pearson criticised the council's community consultation methods.
"The survey more closely resembles a marketing exercise than true consultation,” she said.
Brunswick Chamber of Commerce executive Kim Rosen said it was hoped the rally sent a "huge message to councillors” ahead of Thursday's vote.
"Paid parking can't be introduced purely for revenue raising reasons,” she said.
Comedian Mandy Nolan joked the town did not need paid parking, it needed "courses in manifestation” instead.
"If you can't manifest a parking space, you shouldn't live here,” she said.
Dustyesky, a 'Russian' choir from Mullumbimby, performed Red Army songs at the protest, on the 100-year anniversary of the Russian Revolution.
Prominent supporter of paid car parks, Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson, has been contacted for comment.
Byron Shire Council general manager Ken Gainger has previously told The Northern Star the number of visitors to Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby was increasing and this was placing pressure on parking and traffic management in the towns.
"This is not an issue that is going to go away so council has developed draft parking management strategies for both towns,” Mr Gainger said.
"In Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads more than 60% of parking in the town centres is all-day parking, which doesn't leave that many parking options on a busy day.
"Brunswick Heads is a popular tourist destination, particularly on the weekends, and council also wants to get residents' and business owners' opinions on the possible introduction of paid parking in the town.
"We are not considering implementing paid parking in Mullum but council does think there could be significant long-term benefits for the Brunswick Heads community if the scheme was introduced.
"Paid parking is a way to generate income from visitors and our estimates show we could raise more than $900,000 a year.”
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