Editorial: Fairness needed on parking fines
According to former British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, "there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics".
But when it comes to parking fines in Palmerston North the numbers tell a simple story - and one Mayor Jono Naylor and his council will want to listen to in this election year.
Put simply, a dramatic increase in the number of fines handed out last winter led to a rise in complaints about the system.
On average the council hands out about 4000 tickets a month but that ballooned in August to 9106, thanks no doubt to the hiring of four additional parking wardens.
Opponents of the parking system, led by several central city business owners and former deputy mayor John Hornblow, organised a petition and took their concerns to a city council meeting.
In response the council announced it would be more lenient about parking in the city and increased the "grace period" for parkers from five minutes to 10.
This resulted in a drop in the number of tickets issued to just 2661 in December, a Christmas present that will be welcomed by some and deemed too little, too late by others.
The meters bring in more than $1.8 million a year, which increased about $25,000 between 2011 and last year.
Meantime, revenue from fines paid to the council or collected by the courts has gone up almost $250,000 from one year to the next, to more than $2.1m.
Those stung by a parking fine, or even their own rates bill, could well roll their eyes at such numbers.
No doubt many of the fines meted out are legitimate. However, there are those who still find the Frogparking system confusing and difficult to use and thus make errors when paying for their parking.
There's no argument against the need to fine those who flout the rules but the council needs to ensure it's treating those who make genuine errors fairly.
Too heavy-handed an approach and councillors might be getting the boot in October.
Sonny Bill Williams' fight descended into a farce on Friday night when it was cut from 12 rounds to 10 without his opponent or half of the judges being told.
Boxing's credibility is questionable, as is the quality of Williams' fighting record, and this latest chapter will not help matters.
If the former All Black and rugby league star wants to be taken seriously in the ring he needs to record some clean wins against decent opponents.
Williams is heading back to the NRL now, though there is no word on whether he will try to reduce games to 35 minutes each way.