Council rangers have started patrolling the carpark underneath Armidale Plaza where a three-hour parking limit has been introduced.
But the move has upset many of the shopping centre's business owners, while centre management and Armidale Regional Council have both said the other was responsible for introducing the time limit.
Several businesses The Armidale Express spoke to said they were only given short notice that the change was being made.
Nicole Martin, owner of Solo Hair Design in the plaza, said she received the email the night before the parking restriction was introduced.
"For a lot of us it was a shock," she said.
She said some of her clients can spend longer than three hours at the salon.
"Am I supposed to do valet parking and move my client's car?"
Ms Martin said the advice from management was to park away from the plaza, at Centro, Coles or the tourist information centre, which she said would affect parking spaces there.
Meanwhile, owner of the Daily Ritual, Ross Patch, said he also received the email the evening before the parking limit commenced.
"Customers will be unaware," he said. "Until they get fined."
Helen Restuccia at Guzman's said their biggest issue was safety, especially in winter when it was dark at 5.30pm and there was no lighting and limited security.
Jimmy Croman manages the Anytime Fitness gym in the plaza, and arrives at work at 5.30am.
"I get the reasoning, you don't want people parking there all day. But for staff there should be some permit scheme," he said.
"It would have been nice to have been consulted."
When contacted by The Express, centre manager Tracy Warren said the council had introduced the parking time limit, not the plaza.
"It's not our doing. It's a council regulation," she said. "Yes, it's private property, but we still have to comply with council regulations."
She said a group of plaza business owners tried to meet with her about the issue when she was last in Armidale.
"About 15 of them tried to ambush my office while I was down there and I kicked them out and told them they needed to make an appointment," she said.
When The Express contacted the council, we received a statement saying it agreed to introduce the parking limit following a request from plaza management.
"Council received a request from the Armidale Plaza centre management for council parking rangers to enforce the timed parking regulations established by the management of the Armidale Plaza within the privately owned parking areas," the statement said.
"The privately owned parking areas within the Armidale Plaza are not under council management and have not been identified in council's own Parking and Mobility Strategy adopted by council on 24 October 2018. "
The council added that the updated Parking and Mobility Strategy has yet to be implemented due to border closures during the pandemic and availability of specialist parking management contractors.
While the new parking limit only applies to spaces underneath the plaza, Ms Martin said it would have an effect on businesses.
"When I leased the premises, parking wasn't going to be an issue. Now it will affect my business and how I run it," she said.
"I just feel, for me, someone has moved the goalposts. Until now I haven't had to worry about parking and security."
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