The State Government car park congestion levy is an annual fee placed on all car park spaces within inner Melbourne. It will add another $1 million or so to QVM's annual expenses and that will need to be balanced, at least in part, by higher parking fees or higher stall rents.
Rent increases are totally inappropriate in a retail recession and should our customers be asked to pay higher fees for essential household shopping? So, are there grounds for special consideration for QVM? Should we be exempted from the congestion levy?
Let's look at some of the exemptions that the State Government already provides. Car parking spaces that are exempt from the levy include:· Residential parking;· Hospital visitor parking;· Parking for emergency vehicles;· Disabled parking;· Parking for shift workers;· Garaging of fleet vehicles· Car sales displays; and· Car service spaces. Perhaps public markets should be added to the list?
The annual levy aims to reduce traffic congestion in central Melbourne and encourage more motorists to regularly use the city's trams, buses and trains. Traffic congestion is obviously a problem, and there is little doubt that both CoM and the State Government are moving to reduce the use of cars but they have also recently decided to invest up to $250 million to lock in QVM as Melbourne's premier food source for the long term.
Here are some of the reasons why we think that QVM should be exempted -
- Weekly shopping for food (think multiple carry bags) is not possible via public transport for our more remote, aged, or disabled customers and certainly inconvenient for many others.
- Customers seeking to source fresh healthy food for day to day living should not be penalised.
- We are a community market providing an important community service for low cost healthy food.
- The city has made a brave decision to maintain a traditional public market in a CBD. Inexpensive, clear access should be available for all local (suburban) customers.
- The levy is an intolerable burden on small businesses at QVM and places at risk the market's role as a business incubator.
- QVM parking should be competitive with generally free parking at suburban shopping centres dominated by supermarkets with over generic, mass produced, less sustainable produce.
We believe the State Government should be asked to grant exemption from the car park congestion levy for its premier public market. What do you think?
Thanks to our traders who came up with the following comments on the carpark levy -
- The majority of customers who use our car park are buying fresh food. If there is no Goods & Services Tax on fresh produce why should there be a car park tax on fresh produce?
- On Mondays and Wednesdays the car park is not used for market purchases and perhaps a levy could be applied on those days.