Parking needs new regime

The hills were alive with the sound of laughter at the revelations about Wellington City's parking wardens. First we had the claim from the City Council's parking services manager Colleen Thessman that issuing tickets is about parking behaviour not revenue - 745 tickets a day and $10 million a year, but not about revenue. How thick does she think we are!

And then it emerged that there were quotas or targets set for the wardens - a hundred tickets per warden per day.  Talk about laugh, I just about cried. Good on the DomPost for revealing this legalized theft.

I got a ticket just this week.  Only a few minutes overdue on a street that was almost completely empty in mid morning, so no argument that the fine had to be imposed in order to get the car parks turning over. This was just vicious uncontrolled revenue gathering.

Of course there are some who will argue that people should not over stay their allotted time, and that's true. But there is also a general issue of fair play here, and no one - even the most literal defenders of the rule of law - would say that that the enforcement regime is anything other than brutal and heavy handed.

Now I don't blame the parking wardens themselves - although there are a few with the personalities of hyenas on P.

I blame the city council. It is their policy to contract out the enforcement of parking to this Aussie outfit called Parkwise which is part of Armourguard, and which has a revenue sharing agreement with the council.

And here is the problem. The governance arrangement is wrong. Of course it is in Parkwise's interest to collect all the revenue it can if it is getting a percentage share of it. What else would any rational organisation do?

And of course it makes sense to incentivize its revenue collectors, the parking wardens, with iPods, trips to Australia and the like. And of course it suits the council to have both revenue and a hands off policy which enables it to deny responsibility.

So if people want to change the way parking is administered and enforced in central Wellington, they have to change the policy, and that means the council has to act. How about it councilors?

I say it's time to end the arrangement whereby the council can license a company to pillage the citizens of Wellington. I say it is time to end the contract with Parkwise, bring the wardens back directly under the council's control, and I say it is time to put some more sensible and fair policies in place.

We don't want chaos on the streets with people parking where they want for as long as they want, but the alternative to anarchy is not the licensed brutality we have at the moment. 

It's time for a change, and it's time to make the council and councilors accept the responsibility for the damage they have done to the reputation of the city and the pockets of its citizens. Bring back some fairness and fair play to the enforcement of parking in Wellington.