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Free beach parking under threat
Willing to pay: Wayne Duncan with children Karl and Aiden at Scarborough Beach. Picture: Ian Munro/ The West Australian

Paid parking could be considered at Scarborough beach if the State Government refuses to help pay for a major redevelopment of the area.

Parking is free at all beaches in WA but City of Stirling mayor David Boothman said the council might be forced to start charging to fund essential maintenance and new infrastructure.

Mr Boothman said though paid parking was not on the council's agenda "any time soon", it would have to look at the idea if it was to go ahead with the revamp, estimated to cost $60 million.

"If there is no commitment from the State Government to upgrade and maintain beach infrastructure and public transport, then the City may need to revisit parking options at some time in the future," he said.

Colin Barnett, who said last February that the Scarborough beachfront was "awful" and in need of a facelift, has not pledged any money to the project.

The Premier said yesterday that the Government had indicated its in-principle support for the redevelopment, and discussions with the council were continuing.

He said parking at beaches should be free but there was a case for more short-term parking to let more people use beaches.

Mr Boothman said more than 2 million people visited Scarborough each year, making it the busiest beach in Perth and injecting millions of dollars into the State economy. He said it was not fair for the ratepayers of Stirling to carry the financial burden of maintaining a premier tourism destination.

In Sydney, beachgoers pay up to $5.80 an hour to park at Bondi and Bronte beaches and $7 an hour at Manly beach at weekends.

Stirling chief executive Stuart Jardine said it would be disappointing if funding for the redevelopment had to come from paid parking.

"I don't think parking is the answer. We live in one of the richest places in the world - our Government should contribute to the upkeep of our iconic beaches."

WA Local Government Association president Troy Pickard said most people who visited Perth's popular beaches came from outside the area and councils had every right to implement paid parking with their community's support.

He said permits could be given to local ratepayers so they would not have to pay.

Cottesloe, Fremantle and Rockingham councils said they would not introduce paid parking on their beaches but called on the State Government to contribute financially to the beaches' upkeep.

"That's what our tax dollars should be used for, not ego-boosting projects in the CBD," Cottesloe mayor Kevin Morgan said.

Families at Scarborough yesterday said they would support paid parking if the money went towards improving beach facilities.