Motorists hit hard by tough ticketing

Last updated 13:00 14/02/2014

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Proactive parking wardens are issuing more tickets in Nelson city, with revenue up 26 per cent.

The Nelson City Council contracted out its parking operations last October to Environmental Inspections Ltd.

While EIL has four parking officers, the same number as the council employed, they are issuing more tickets.

In the four months to the end of January EIL issued 7511 tickets, 295 more than at the same period the previous year by council parking officers.

Revenue is up from $509,953 to $646,509 for the four months.

Further changes are also likely. The council is undertaking a parking strategy review with consultants Abley Transportation and holding a workshop today to review their research. The strategy covers central Nelson and the Stoke and Tahunanui business areas and a draft is being completed to go out for public consultation.

Council communications manager Angela Ricker said in contracting out its parking operations the council had the opportunity to bring a fresh view to how the work was done.

"New staff have new energy and a new interpretation of how best to do the job. The new staff have also had a positive, proactive level of interaction with the community."

The role itself was not different from what council staff used to do, she said.

The council made its parking officers redundant in its reorganisation last year and expected to save $40,000 in contracting out the parking operations.

Environmental Inspections is already contracted to provide the council's noise control, animal control, liquor licensing and air quality monitoring services. It is 50 per cent owned by Stephen Lawrence, and the other 50 per cent by Robin Whalley and Brent and Sandra Higgins.

The biggest increase in ticketing has been for vehicles without a warrant of fitness.

Under the contracted out regime, the parking officers have issued 1060 tickets totalling $212,000 for private vehicles without WOFs. That's up from the 723 tickets totalling $144,530 under the council parking staff.

Ms Ricker said in general terms the council recovered about 70 per cent of the ticket value issued. Cancellation of tickets and non-payment even after going through the court process reduced the actual revenue received.

City promotions organisation Uniquely Nelson manager Cathy Madigan said it encouraged a turnover of parking spaces, especially in the summer when it was busy.

Uniquely Nelson did not have a view on the rise in motorists being ticketed for not having a vehicle WOF because that was the law.

"My personal view is if you are driving a vehicle without a warrant it is a danger," she said.

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She believed the increase in fines would settle down as people realised the council had a more diligent parking operations service and they could not stay in one park all day. Richmond also had parking time limits, she said.

Free Tuesday parking in winter was also under review, she said.

"We are reassessing and talking to retailers and looking at what would be best for the winter months. Our preference is there should be a direct link between parking and shopping - you come into the city and get free parking when you buy something."

Some city workers had used the free winter parking, which had time limits, for all-day parking. "However, car parking is for customers using our business and retail stores, it is not a given right for somebody who works in the city to expect free parking," she said. "It's just a reality of the CBD that we need to manage that flow of traffic."

She believed the parking strategy would look at the supply and demand of parking for the future.

Mayor Rachel Reese has said she is tempted to opt for a free parking system but also noted "someone is going to pay for car parks whether it is through an end user parking ticket or through rates".

"Several people have asked for an updated system in the squares where you pay on return to your car and exit via a boom gate. I'm quite warm to that idea

"With that technology we could also improve free winter parking, on more days than Tuesdays, and link it to a receipt from a CBD business."

TICKET BLITZ Tickets and income from NCC's parking operations Oct 2012-Jan 2013 Oct 2013-2014 Tickets issued 7216 7511 Revenue $509,953 $646,509

- Nelson

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