Ballina Shire Council is offering neighbouring Byron residents the same parking rights it gives locals who use the Ballina airport car park but only if Byron reciprocates.
Paid parking was introduced at the Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport on January 2 this year and Ballina residents were given some relief with free parking for the first two hours, provided they have an appropriate council-issued sticker.
Ballina mayor Phil Silver said he had floated the idea with Byron mayor Jan Barham for each of the two neighbouring councils to recognise the parking rights of each others residents.
At last weeks council meeting, Cr Silver succeeded in his push to grant Byron residents the same privilege Ballina locals enjoy at Ballina airport subject to Byron Shire Council reciprocating.
He said the move allowed both coastal councils to levy a charge on tourists using community infrastructure without penalising locals, while demonstrating a desirable alliance and co-operation between the two shires.
Visitors to Byron currently have to pay for parking at some areas, such as main beach and the CBD whereas visitors to Ballina, apart from the airport, now only face time restrictions on parking in the CBD.
Two councillors opposed the move, with Cr John Felsch saying it was a knee-jerk reaction to opposition by Byron residents to the paid parking and Cr Margaret Howes accusing Cr Silver of political grandstanding because he was considering running as an independent candidate for the upcoming state election.
Cr Felsch said he was concerned Ballina ratepayers would foot the bill for the cost of issuing exemption stickers to Byron residents but Cr Silver said there was no extra cost because all the stickers were already issued.
Cr Howes said Ballina was not a twin city with Byron we should maintain our independence and not look for a merger.
Cr Alan Brown said Ballina should now throw the ball into Byron shires court.
After all we use their name for the airport and theyre not terribly happy about that, Cr Brown said.
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