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Council car plan queried

Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013

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Whangarei Leader

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Drivers who flout the law by not having a current warrant of fitness or registration may want to think again.

Parking wardens have been empowered to start policing warrants and vehicle licences from July.

An expired warrant will result in a $200 fine but vehicles for which the warrant is less than a month out of date will have 14 days to correct the fault and avoid the fine.

The Whangarei District Council has always had authority to enforce fines for expired warrants and vehicle licences.

But it has taken a notice of motion by district councillor and AA national representative John Williamson for the enforcement to start.

He says it is about improving safety by reducing the number of unsafe cars on our roads.

"Surveys show up to 10 per cent of cars don't have a current warrant of fitness or registration and that number is increasing. Those cars are at least twice as likely to cause a serious accident than the 90 per cent which have a current warrant."

Mr Williamson says the move puts Whangarei in line with similar councils.

The proposal has drawn praise from a mechanic who has long advocated better policing of warrants and registration.

Kelly Miru from Kelly's Automotive is pleased with the new measure, which he says will encourage drivers to have safe cars.

"I think it's fair. A lot of people with busy lives do forget so I think a month's grace is appropriate.

"There are some warrants out there that are over a year old."

But not all councillors approve, with some saying the enforcement is not a core council function and could be seen as revenue gathering.

Councillor Crichton Christie says vehicle safety is not a significant road safety issue, because vehicle faults alone have been found to cause just 0.4 per cent of fatal and injury crashes. The rest involve human error and road factors.

"It's potentially $1 million in revenue - are we just gathering this to collect revenue or keep it safe?"

Deputy mayor Phil Halse says he has concerns with the way the enforcement will be carried out.

He asks if the council's contract with bylaws enforcer Environmental Northland will have to go up.

He also asks how the council will chase up fines, when the court system is owed millions in unpaid fines.

Mr Williamson's notice of motion was passed by the council's district living committee, with Phil Halse, Brian McLachlan, Jeroen Jongejans, Crichton Christie and Kahu Sutherland voting against.


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