Dealers call for action over car hawkers

FED UP: Brian Millar, who has a car sales yard at 102 Elles Rd, is not happy that the public can sell their cars parked in Tay St, Invercargill.
FED UP: Brian Millar, who has a car sales yard at 102 Elles Rd, is not happy that the public can sell their cars parked in Tay St, Invercargill.

Car hawkers are unlikely to disappear from Invercargill any time soon because they are parked in between bureaucratic red tape.

The city's car dealers are furious that hawkers can line Tay St with cars to sell while they are regulated.

Koda Kars owner Brian Millar said the Invercargill City Council refused to do anything about dozens of cars being sold in Tay and Dee streets.

The council had forbidden him from having more than 10 cars in his yard, and even told him he couldn't display a flag in front of his property - but he said it refused to do anything about cars being illegally sold on the road.

He'd had enough when he saw a car for sale outside his car-yard, identical to one he was selling, for a lower price.

"Why should there be a limit to how many cars I can have here when they can go wild on the street? People are selling cars right in front of my bloody yard."

Miller said he spent $10,000 a year on rates, rent, and a licence, while side-of-the-road sellers didn't have to pay anything.

"It's a problem in this town. A large problem. And no-one's taken any notice of it."

Steve's Autos owner Steve Dryden said backyard dealers were ruining his business.

"If they're selling their cars out there on the street, it's my livelihood," he said.

"I may have to shut my yard down. I don't know what I'm meant to do if I can't make a living."

Like Miller, he'd also seen cars for sale on the street in front of his business, purposely undercutting the prices of his cars. "I have to pay a lease, rates, insurance, staff to operate here while these guys can just park on city council land and pay nothing."

Dryden said beyond the financial issue, the cars lining the street were dangerous. "Someone's going to die up there. What if someone gets run over? Who's to blame then?"

A city council bylaw states "[N]o vehicle may be parked on any public road displaying any sign or notice for the purpose of sale, exhibition or demonstration or for advertising goods, services or businesses without written permission of the council."

But Dee and Tay streets are state highways and come under the New Zealand Transport Authority.

NZTA Southland area manager Peter Robinson said the bylaw was intended to protect safety.

The agency had worked with the council by putting warning letters on the cars of repeat offenders, but had yet to punish anyone violating the bylaw.

"We haven't been putting letters around every car, just ones that are blocking visibility."

The agency wanted to encourage people to move their cars away from the main roads through a "carrot over the stick" approach, which was why it had yet to tow an offending car away.

The Southland Times