Meter top-ups 'unfair to non-parked drivers'

BY MATTHEW THEUNISSEN
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2009
CHRISTMAS SPIRIT? OR MARKETING STUNT? Lone Star meter maids Holly Mauheni and Tara Hopwood are topping up your expired meters while you shop.
JOHN HAWKINS/Southland Times
CHRISTMAS SPIRIT? OR MARKETING STUNT? Lone Star meter maids Holly Mauheni and Tara Hopwood are topping up your expired meters while you shop.

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It's a little bit nice and could be a little bit naughty.

The Lone Star Cafe in Invercargill has employed meter maids to pay off people's parking meters to help alleviate some of the stress of Christmas shopping.

But Invercargill City Council parking enforcement manager Debbie McCallum said while it was a nice gesture, it probably would not save people money, as they would generally return to their cars before the meter expired.

Furthermore, it would be illegal for them to top up a meter if a car was parked for longer than the allocated time, and would not be fair to other people.

"But if they're paying for people's parking when they've just parked, then that's fine," she said.

Lone Star manager Steven Gray said the idea was to give something back to the community and the patrons who allowed them to have a thriving business.

"It's a way of promoting our business through the Christmas period, but it's also a way for us to give back to the people who keep us going," he said.

The meter maids had paid 20 cents into about 100 meters yesterday, or about $20. That could save a lot of $15 dollar fines, he said.

Meter maid Holly Mauheni said people returning to their cars had been pleasantly surprised to have their meters paid. "The public really loved it today."

The Lone Star meter maids will be operating on Dee, Kelvin, Don and Esk streets until Christmas Day.

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