Parking wardens under fire from retailers
Central city businesses say the recent spike in parking tickets in Nelson 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 it 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 in from Blenheim, Murchison and Golden Bay.
"There's a bad reputation of when they get a ticket when they come to Nelson."
He liked the idea of parking barriers in Montgomery Square so there was "no nasty surprise" when a driver left.
Trafalgar St was becoming "nothing but chain stores" whereas Richmond's Queen St still had many locally owned businesses, he felt that the parking issue was going to worsen this situation and drive people out of Nelson and to Richmond where there is free parking.
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 like she would be penalised for standing up to the wardens, like her husband had.
"They are a law unto themselves," she said.
Bridge St Collective founder Galen King said he recently had a ticket upgraded from $20 to $40 in one day. While he had since decided to leave the car at home and walk to work, he said his workmates had been "pinged multiple times a week" for not topping up parking meters in time.
Toll delivery driver Dean Tervet said he had noticed more wardens around and they had told him many times he was not to double park outside stores, however, he said the nature of his work meant this could not be avoided when stores did not have a designated loading area.
Likewise, Fastways courier Fiona Prosser said the central city did not have enough parking zones so she did not have a choice in double parking outside stores. She had also had parking wardens tell her to move on while she was on jobs.
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 enforcement is about fairly allocating a scarce resource. Effective enforcement means the car parks intended for people to use when shopping remain available, not overtaken by longer term parking. This ensures Nelson businesses can rely on their customers being able to park near them. Double parking is a significant safety issue and needs to be enforced for the benefit of pedestrians and motorists alike."
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 revenue from parking fines pays for the cost of providing and maintaining the cars parks, the cost of enforcement including court processes and inner city enhancement such as street cleaning, litter collection and general maintenance. Funding from parking revenue also goes to the public transport system and to Uniquely Nelson.
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