Parking wardens on the prowl

Parking warden: Just doing his job
Parking warden: Just doing his job

Off to Nelson for a day-trip? Then be sure to watch where you park.

Central Nelson businesses say a recent spike in parking tickets in the city is "vicious" and bad for business.

The Nelson City Council contracted out its parking operation in October last year to Environmental Services and required them to issue at least 18,500 tickets a year, 1300 more than the council parking wardens used to average.

In the first four months of its contract, Environmental Services dished out 7511 tickets, and if that rate continues for the rest of the year, it will issue about 22,530.

Hanafins owner Bob Toepfer said the increase in ticketing was bad for business in Nelson city.

"It's gotten more vicious since the outsourcing. I've had people walking out of the shop when they realised their parking is about to run out, or people will come in with glazed eyes looking for parking change."

He was concerned about the reputation Nelson would get with people coming into town for specialty stores like his. He had many customers travelling from Blenheim, Murchison and Golden Bay.

"There's a bad reputation of they get a ticket when they come to Nelson."

Mr Toepfer said businesses and their employees in the city centre had to constantly be mindful of topping up their parking meters, though when the shop was busy it was impossible to leave the store so this would cost him two to three tickets some weeks.

He had worked tickets into his weekly budget.

Falafel Gourmet co-owner Kay Vidal said she had constant issues with parking wardens outside the Hardy St cafe in the mornings when she would off-load supplies into the shop.

She and husband Yoram would have to park outside the store - a non-parking area - while they carried supplies in.

Mrs Vidal said parking wardens would stand next to her van "telling me to hurry up".

She said this was outrageous and off-loading in the morning was one of the most important things for businesses. "You can't run a business if you can't off-load. They are very hard-nosed."

Mr Vidal had been issued a ticket and was contesting it.

"It's not obstructing [traffic] there, if we were obstructing traffic it would make sense," Mrs Vidal said.

She felt she would be penalised for standing up to the wardens, as her husband had. "They are a law unto themselves."

Nelson City Council communications manager Angela Ricker said it was the job of parking wardens to issue infringements whenever they identified offences and that drivers who broke the rules in Nelson, should expect to be ticketed.

Parking officers were simply carrying out their duties, she said. "If people obey the regulations, they won't be ticketed. Also, if they feel they have received a ticket in error, they have the right to appeal it."

The Marlborough Express