Feisty Fred fights driveway ticket

PAPER TRAIL: Fred Symes took on the council over his parking ticket.
PAPER TRAIL: Fred Symes took on the council over his parking ticket.

A Palmerston North retiree’s surprise at a parking ticket issued after he parked in front of his own driveway, turned to amusement when he performed a spellcheck on the offending infringement notice. 

Church St resident Fred Symes had popped home for a pit-stop in August last year, parking briefly by a culvert in front of his own driveway without blocking the entrance to his garage.

He returned to his car and an infringement notice informing him he owed the Palmerston North City Council $40 for the offence: ‘‘Stopped within 1 meter of vehicle entrance’’ [sic]. It also listed Palmerston North as the suburb rather than the city.

Symes addressed a letter to the council challenging the ticket and offering some spelling lessons. 

He told the council the name of the suburb in which he lives is not ‘‘Palmerston North’’, and was also certain that a ‘‘meter’’ better describes a contraption fed coins by motorists than to a unit for measuring distance.

‘‘I asked them [the council] in what locality of Palmerston North my suburb lay, was it Ashhurst, or perhaps Woodville? They didn’t like that one bit.’’

Because he had parked in front of his own driveway – but not due to his keen eye for spelling – the ticket was waived.

However, this Christmas, Symes’ amusement waned when his gardener, aged in his 80s, also received a ticket when a lack of available car parking spaces on busy Church St forced him to park in the same spot to unload his equipment.

‘‘I’m a bit concerned about the enthusiasm of the [parking] wardens in this city,’’ Symes said.

Pita Kinaston, principal environmental health officer at the Palmerston North City Council, said the spelling error Symes spotted was regrettable.

Council staff issued tickets to vehicles blocking driveways for a variety of reasons – ‘‘most notably so residents can get in and out of their properties and so emergency services can reach their required destinations’’, Kinaston said.

‘‘It’s also important to note that only vehicles parked within 1 metre of a driveway are ticketed. The first ticket was waived because it was recognised that it was Mr Symes’ driveway.’’

The gardener would not have been issued a ticket if it had been clear he was making a brief stop, Kinaston said.

Manawatu Standard