Wardens resort to chalk to catch cheats

JANINE RANKIN JANINE.RANKIN@MSL.CO.NZ
Last updated 12:00 18/06/2014
warden
GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ
A parking warden in action in Palmerston North.

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Chalk remains a basic and useful tool for Palmerston North parking wardens on the lookout for meter cheats, despite the city's sensor parking system.

About 6 per cent of tickets are issued after wardens have chalked tyres to catch motorists parking beyond the time restrictions.

The rest are issued after the sensor software alerts wardens to the presence of a vehicle in a parking space that has not been paid for, when the paid time has run out, or when the vehicle has overstayed the time restriction.

The city council provided figures showing how many tickets are issued as a result of chalking after the Manawatu Standard revealed a loophole in the sensor system.

Early morning workers found they could get away without paying if they parked before monitoring began.

The meters accept money from 6am, but do not start debiting until 8.30am, letting people pay to park until 10.30am. But those who parked early and did not pay, including a former Standard staff member who tried out the ploy, had been able to stay all day without triggering the sensors or attracting a ticket.

City council roading manager Graeme Tong said the council took a dim view of people manipulating the system. He reminded people that chalk could still be used to detect an infringement.

The loophole appears to open up in situations where a vehicle parks before the sensors are switched on, so there is no record of when the vehicle arrived from which to measure the time allowed.

Tong said the council had asked for a software solution, but that had not yet been put in place, so wardens were using the traditional chalking check where they suspected vehicles were overstaying.

The figures for the 12 months to the end of May appear to show a general upward trend in chalk use.

In May, 317 parking tickets were issued after chalking, more than double the figure of 143 last June, but below a peak of 389 this March.

Council head of environmental health services Wayne Jameson said he could not explain the figures.

The council told the Manawatu Standard it would take 40 hours and cost just over $3000 to extract figures showing how many of the chalking tickets were issued for vehicles parked in sensored spaces, and how many in unsensored parks further out from the city centre.

Tong said the council had moved to close off another way people could avoid paying for parking. In the past fortnight there had been a blitz on replacing and securing damaged or missing sensors and bay numbers.

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- Manawatu Standard

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