Parking changes too slow

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 06:41 19/12/2012

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Resolution of Palmerston North motorists' complaints about the city's paid parking system is taking too long, says former deputy mayor John Hornblow.

He led a deputation to the council last week, including the presentation of a 2000-signature petition, demanding a review of the system.

He is disappointed by the muted response.

‘‘It’s not been complete silence, but there has not been the proactive response I would have thought was appropriate given the strength of feeling in the community.

‘‘The council needs to take radical action, quickly, because this is creating too much anxiety for people.’’

Any decisions to make changes would likely take months.

‘‘Meantime hundreds, if not thousands of people, will receive tickets because of problems with the system – not because they are wicked people.

‘‘We will continue to perpetuate a culture in this city that is not one I would endorse.’’

Broadway retailer Ralph Bare, said he had received a letter of acknowledgement and written confirmation that the issues would be considered by a special working group set up to review parking.

However, there was no invitation to join the group, despite a suggestion by councillors that it might be possible to have public representation.

The group is expected to have its first formal meeting today.

The members are mayor Jono Naylor, councillors Adrian Broad, Susan Baty and Duncan McCann, with staff members Ray Swadel, Peter Eathorne, Graeme Tong and Jono Ferguson-Pye.

Its first business will be to consider the issues raised at the recent deputation and draft terms of reference.

Customer services general manager, Mr  Eathorne, said staff had noticed a decline in concerns raised by the public since the  council had made two concessions.

It has added an extra five minutes’ grace to the time allowed to get from the car to the meter and to return to the car after paid time expires, and employed ‘‘parking pixies’’ to help Christmas shoppers operate the meters.

Since the deputation, Manawatu District of the Automobile Association chairman Paul Rieger has also weighed in on the debate.

‘‘What the customers really want is a portable ticket, that allows you to buy parking time, and move around.

‘‘We have been hammering them about that for about two years.’’

The Manawatu Standard is asking the city council to provide comprehensive figures from the two years to the end of December on tickets issued, challenged, waived and referred to court.

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The newspaper wants information about the $40 offence of failing to activate the meter correctly, or paying for the wrong bay number, to be highlighted.

The Standard has also asked the council for the legal opinions it has received that assure it that paying for the wrong parking space is an offence within the terms of its parking bylaw, but been refused on the grounds of legal privilege.

The Office of the Ombudsmen is now investigating the council’s decision to withhold the information, given the level of public interest.

- Manawatu Standard

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