City Parking needs regime change

Back in January I wrote that the parking policies of the city council needed some regime change.  This was after some public comments from a council manager that the parking policies were about changing behaviour not revenue gathering. Gosh we all had a good laugh about that.

After some good work by the DominionPost we learned that the council contracts its enforcement to Armourguard (which used to be a security company) which operates a subsidiary called Parkwise which employs the wardens on the streets. The wardens get rewards like iPods and trips to Aussie over and above their pay for good performance, and Armourgaurd gets a fee for each ticket issued. So there's an inbuilt incentive to issue tickets - that's a no brainer.

The council maintains that there is a balance to be struck between being overzealous and under penalising, and I agree. But popular perception is that the wardens and those who instruct them (and that includes the council) have generally leaned too much towards getting revenue over maintaining orderly parking. Having a regime that rewards the issuing of tickets can only encourage such a perception.

Last week we learned about the council's latest effort -a sneaky car with a spy cam which will be parked at places like schools to nab parents stopping on yellow lines to drop off their kids. The DomPost published my letter complaining about this.

In it I asked whether there was any limit to the Wellington City Council's willingness to fine its citizens for driving around the city.

"The latest move to have a traffic spy car with camera to pick up stopping offences outside schools is a step too far. No one condones wilful or serious law breaking, but having a traffic spy car is just too much. If there are known trouble spots, then why not put some extra wardens on duty for a few days to sort out the problem.

I went on to suggest that the council might even consider having a word with the offenders to ask them not to do the really bad things like stopping on yellow lines to discharge children.

"But perhaps not: that would prevent the council raising extra revenue. That, not the safety of children, is what this latest measure is all about. It's time the council stopping preying on the motorists of Wellington. I for one want a review of the parking policy and practices to rein in this sort of predatory behaviour."

I see no need to retreat from that view. Back in January I put the issue squarely at the feet of the council.  Granted that some of the wardens have the difficult personalities, but the real problem is with the governance. And to change the wardens' behaviour we have to change the rules they work to. Only the council can do that. And in this election we will have the opportunity to elect councillors who will do just that.