$1m in fines for parking waived

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 01/01/2013

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Nearly $1 million of parking tickets issued to Christchurch motorists were waived in the past year.

Christchurch City Council parking ticket records, obtained under the Official Information Act, show nearly 6000 errant parkers successfully appealed against their tickets as the council exercised some post-earthquake leniency.

The council issued 59,375 tickets between November 2011 and October 2012, worth $5.3m, but waived 5840 of them, worth $934,728.

Motorists parking in the central city yesterday welcomed the council's approach, with visitors comparing the move favourably with parking wardens in their own cities.

Paul Roberts, 41, of Auckland, said the stance was a "great idea", given the difficulties that residents had faced since the quakes.

"I think that's absolutely reasonable. People have been through enough as it is."

Roberts was also impressed with the parking charges, which were considerably cheaper than in his home town.

"Here, $3 will get you an hour and a half, and that'll set you back $8 in Auckland," he said.

Anthony Paterson, 26, of Wellington, said the waivers could win long-suffering parking wardens some popularity.

"I think it's a good policy. You've got to keep people on side because they've got plenty of reasons to not be very popular."

Paterson said Wellington wardens "could learn a thing or two" from their Christchurch counterparts.

"I don't want to use any socially unacceptable terms, but they're not very nice," he said.

"It's just a money-making thing."

Juaan Te Rure, 31, of Bromley, said the leniency was a "great initiative", given residents' ongoing struggles.

"It's good that they're giving people some courtesy because I've had a ticket before and you can get quite p..... off about it."

In a report for councillors in October, council inspections and enforcement unit manager Gary Lennan said the council had adopted a more lenient approach towards parking infringers because of the city's quakes.

"Staff have been very mindful of the emotional and financial impact the earthquakes have had on the residents of Christchurch and consequently a higher degree of consideration and empathy has been given when dealing with these submissions to waive tickets," Lennan said in the report.

The report showed the number of infringement notices dropped by more than 30,000 since the quakes, falling from 92,526 tickets in the 2009-10 financial year to 62,320 in 2011-12.

The council's current stance stands in stark contrast to its pre-quake approach to ticketing.

In January 2010, a parking warden told The Press that wardens were expected to issue seven tickets an hour, with "high-scoring" wardens who issued more than 100 tickets daily having their names inscribed on a ceremonial cricket bat.

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At the time, Lennan said the bat was "a staff initiative . . . to assist morale", while the ticket expectations were based on estimates of "a fair day's work issuing tickets".

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- The Press

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