Council takes $12 ticket fight to High Court
A legal researcher's determined effort to prove Hutt City Council did not have the power to issue him a $12 parking ticket has come at a $10,000 cost to the council.
Al O'Connor, a Victoria University masters student, challenged the ticket saying the time restrictions imposed by the council were not valid. He won his case in the district court in June.
The parking restriction, for parking more than 120 minutes in Port Rd, Seaview, in June last year, had been in operation for seven years.
O'Connor said the council had issued more than 7000 tickets since he began the challenge and, over the years, it could have issued as many as $1 million worth.
Yesterday the council appealed to the High Court, saying it was extraordinary to suggest that the council had no rule-making power to control parking.
Lawyer for the council Richard Fowler, QC, said that, under the Traffic Control Devices Rules, there was a general power to make restrictions, although some, such as designating areas as coupon parking, would need a bylaw.
He said it would be very odd if the council had the power to close roads but not to control parking on them.
The means of creating the restrictions were part of the Traffic Control Devices Rules, which was what was intended.
Donald Stevens, QC, for O'Connor, cited the same piece of legislation, saying it did not authorise the council to restrict parking, but was limited to indicating the restrictions that had to be implemented through a bylaw.
A bylaw would be needed to restrict the length of parking time. A Hutt City Council bylaw already, in effect, mentioned some restrictions, but did not mention length of time.
Justice Denis Clifford reserved his decision.
Hutt City Council solicitor Bradley Cato said its lawyers had updated their submissions from the district court at no cost and the Queen's counsel used had capped their fees at $10,000 for the appeal.
Cato said the council decided to appeal because the district court decision had implications for the way it had been authorising its parking signage throughout the district.
The Dominion Post