Parking fines may be waived

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 08/01/2013
aaron keown
Christchurch City Councillor Aaron Keown

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Christchurch motorists will continue to receive lenient treatment over parking fines as the city council continues its "empathetic" approach to enforcement.

The council won praise for its approach last month when The Press reported that it had waived nearly $1 million of fines between November 2011 and October 2012.

The council's acting inspections and enforcement manager, Anne Columbus, yesterday said the council would continue to take an "empathetic" approach and waive fines if people's problems appeared to be valid.

"A significant number" of the waivers were related to the emotional and financial strain of the earthquakes, she said.

"It might be the fact that they're right in the middle of insurance or EQC issues, or that they're suffering from medical issues because of the quake. Some of these people's lives have been completely upheaved," she said.

Seven per cent of parking tickets issued during the 2011-12 financial year were waived, compared with 5 per cent in a normal year before the quakes.

"People really appreciate the small things. A $12 parking fine might be nothing to some people, but to others it could break their week," Columbus said.

City councillors backed the approach, saying there was no need to be overly strict.

Cr Aaron Keown said the council was taking a "pretty realistic" approach to enforcement in the post-quake climate.

"We live in a different environment now, so different rules apply," he said. "You don't need to encourage [parking space] turnover when there's nothing there."

People who were already dealing with quake-related problems did not need the added stress of an unfair parking ticket, he said.

"I would hate to think that someone getting a parking fine could be the straw that breaks the camel's back and makes them leave Christchurch," he said.

Cr Yani Johanson said he was happy for the current approach to continue.

"I've got no problem with them doing that. As long as it's genuine, then it's more than appropriate," he said.

Columbus said the council would consider appeals on a case-by-case basis but expected the number of waivers to decline as people's lives got back to normal.

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- The Press

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