Mike Yardley: Beware the parking warden
Even at the best of times, parking wardens struggle to muster much public affection.
Parking wardens have the redoubtable ability to turn mild, self-respecting adults into bug-eyed, foam-flecking, capillary-popping balls of fury.
Of course, many wardens have been assigned to suburbia with their ticket books, post-quake. But lately, a swag of residents have reported an upswing in wardens prowling suburban streets, devoid of any designated parking restrictions.
I happened to notice one of these safari-hatted specimens trawling an unsuspecting side street in St Martins. Curious George got the better of me, so I stopped and inquired what exactly she was up to. Ms Warden glared at me with the hatchet-faced disdain of an Edwardian spinster confronted by a flasher.
No response was forthcoming, but I happened to notice she was in the midst of a swinging fine frenzy, in which she'd slapped a spree of $150 fines on roadside vehicles that had expired WOFs or licences.
The city council's enforcement unit manager, Anne Columbus, has confirmed that on an average week in December, wardens issued 138 fines for WOFs and 233 fines for expired licences.
But the council denies they are "consciously targeting or trawling for unlicensed or unwarranted vehicles".
Now, sure, expired WOFs are a potential safety menace. But lapsed vehicle licences? No matter how expired it is, payment is always back-dated on renewal, so there is no escape. Is this really the top enforcement priority for our parking wardens?
I'd like to see the wardens deployed to instantly fine those cheapskate, polluting freedom campers who sleep over in prohibited camping areas. What about a blitz on city litter bugs? Or perhaps the wardens could be used to dissuade those pestilential "hood rats" from parking their proverbial in Re:Start Mall?
Unleashing the officious fervour of parking wardens into quiet suburban streets where there are no parking restrictions smells like a fast-buck fishing expedition.
And unlike that other unsavoury trade accustomed to pounding the pavement, no-one gets a happy ending.