Driver persuades police to share business

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2012
Melvin Butler
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

MONOPOLY BUSTER: Auto Salvage owner Melvin Butler says he wants a fair system for tow truck operators in Invercargill.

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An Invercargill tow truck driver has forced a police rethink after battling to get a fair slice of business in the city.

Auto Salvage owner Melvin Butler said the police tow truck callout roster system was unfair because only a few businesses benefited.

Mr Butler said the roster system favoured a "closed-shop operation" monopolised by a consortium of four businesses, Parkside Panels, Auto Rescue, Cor-son Panel Repairs and GWD Russells.

"When I set up my business, I approached the Invercargill police to work on the callout roster but was told to approach the consortium," he said.

Southland road policing manager Senior Sergeant John Pine said the previous roster system had seen supply and demand met, but after complaints from Mr Butler a review was called.

Mr Butler said repeated efforts to engage with the consortium to get on the roster had proved unsuccessful.

There had been several areas of concern, among them that the towing businesses were also panel beaters and that meant work was delivered to their door, putting other businesses at a disadvantage, he said.

He had lobbied police for changes and as a result, Invercargill police said yesterday they were revising the system to give everyone a fair go.

Mr Pine said the current callout roster system had been reviewed and police were moving from working with select businesses to putting the work out for tender.

Police were satisfied with the service they had been receiving, but when they realised that other tow truck operators were unhappy, measures were put in place to review the police tow-truck callout roster, Mr Pine said.

Letters of intent to change the system had been sent to Parkside Panels, Auto Rescue, Corson Panel Repairs, GWD Russells, Southland Machine Hire and Auto Salvage.

"This will be an opportunity to put in place a system that is fair to everyone."

Mr Butler said: "The police should have been operating this way a long time ago."

Auto Salvage tow truck driver Jason Pope said the industry had been controlled by a select few in the past.

"I think all we are asking for is a system that gives everyone a chance to benefit," he said.

Corson Panel Repairs declined to comment when contacted by The Southland Times.

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- The Southland Times

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