Call for changes to parking regime

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 11/12/2012

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Courageous, proactive and radical changes to Palmerston North's parking regime have been demanded by a deputation presenting a 2000-signature petition to the city council.

Former deputy mayor John Hornblow, one of those who earlier supported the introduction of the city's sensor-parking system, led a deputation to the council's finance and performance committee yesterday.

"The system is unjust," he said.

"People are fined for unintended and understandable errors.

"Good citizens are feeling angry, guilty and anxious."

The deputation was supported by about a dozen people in the public gallery, who were generous with their applause, and a man who held a "1 hour free parking" sign throughout.

Four other people made public comment, recounting tales of fines they believed were unreasonably harsh for small breaches of the parking rules.

Mr Hornblow said the $40 fine for failing to activate the meters correctly was "absolutely excessive".

He urged the council to ease up on enforcement, currently carried out by a team of 13 wardens, and instigate a system of reminders and warnings before issuing tickets, as complex issues that made the system "wrong" were sorted out.

Business owner Ralph Bare said he did not accept that parking wardens were obliged to issue such heavy infringements, when land transport rules said they "may" enforce certain offences, not that they must do so.

The system and the way it was enforced was driving people out of town, he said.

"Do not underestimate the damage done by the influence of this parking regime which, in its ruthlessness, has gone about its task of policing its policy with a Nazi-like precision," Mr Bare said.

While both men called for a goodwill gesture, such as an hour's free parking for everyone, especially in the leadup to Christmas, hairdresser Gabrielle Bundy-Cooke said time restrictions also needed to be relaxed.

The two-hour limit meant every customer needing a cut and colour had to go and move their car some time during their appointment.

She said people did not want the council to give parking away for free.

"It's not the parking charges, it's that people are frightened of not being able to even question their fines."

The council has set up a working group to review the parking system, but it is unlikely to make any changes before Christmas.

Mr Hornblow said although there were confidential issues concerning the contract with the suppliers of the "frog" sensor technology, there should be independent people on that working group.

Parking pixies, employed to help people manage the meters during Christmas shopping, were due to start work today.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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