Wellington business owners 'sabotaging' sensor car parks to get free parking, city council says
Some business owners in Wellington's CBD are being accused of "sabotaging" new sensor car parks in an effort to get free parking.
Wellington City Council says the numbers on about 30 car parking spaces have been chipped off.
New parking sensor technology was implemented in the capital in August last year. The sensors detect when a vehicle has stopped in a parking bay, and when someone had overstayed.
The technology means no more paper tickets being blown away or chalk on tyres, but it relies on people entering the parking number of the space into a machine before paying.
Council spokesman Richard MacLean said there had been initial teething problems with disc numbers peeling off because the adhesive was not up-to-scratch.
But more recently, some numbers had disappeared as a result of "sabotage" with local business owners trying to pull them off the kerb, he said.
Spaces on Ghuznee St, Blair St, Garrett St, Dixon St and Featherston St had been interfered with.
"We think maybe some businesses think pulling them off will thwart enforcement and allow parking for longer periods."
The council was adamant it was business owners, because they were getting "high quality intelligence" about suspects, MacLean said.
"Our wardens are also doing the rounds and keeping an eye on them. We are keeping on top of those [numbers] being removed and replacing them as quickly as possible."
As far as MacLean was aware, no fines had been issued to motorists using number-less car parks.
"Most people have been able to figure out the missing numbers and are paying."
First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said it was disappointing and unsettling to hear that business owners could do such a thing.
"Perhaps they don't understand the wider benefits," he said.
"The reality is the system is working well and has transformed town centres where it is being used."
Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford was unaware of any business owners interfering with sensor parks.
"If that is the case I'm surprised the council hasn't contacted us".
MacLean said the council planned on dealing with the culprits itself, but if the vandalism escalated then it would get the police involved.
"We could make them pay for the replacement of the numbers but we are investigating if there are other means and looking at ways to discourage this activity."
He was unsure what it would cost to replace the numbers, but believed it would not be expensive.
The new numbers were now bolted on and harder to be take off, he said.
The same sensor technology was installed in Auckland car parks this month and has been so confusing for motorists it has created queues as people figure out how to use it.
HOW DO SENSOR CAR PARKS WORK?
• You find a space, which will have a unique number printed on it. You then enter that number into the nearest pay machine. App users will be able to do this through their phone rather than going to the machine.
• You will still be able to select an amount of time and pay in advance. But you will not have to return to your car to display a ticket.
• App users will be able to start a timer on their smartphone when they arrive and stop it when they leave, meaning they pay only for the exact amount of time they use the park.
• The app will also generate alerts when your time is running low, and will allow you to top up the meter from anywhere.