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Fines reprieve for city parking offenders

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People who fail to pay a parking fine by the due date will receive a reminder letter with no additional fee, plus a two-week extension, the Adelaide City Council decided last night.

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Currently, drivers who receive a parking fine receive a reminder notice – including an additional fee – two days after their fine is due.

The new policy means offending drivers will instead receive a free reminder notice and a two-week extension on the due date before additional fees kick in.

The council was split on the decision last night, but Lord Mayor Martin Haese placed a casting vote in favour of the less punitive approach.

Central Ward councillor Megan Hender argued the impact of the policies on the council’s budget – estimated to be between $1.4 million and $1.6 million in lost revenue and increased administration costs – would be too high.

“There are 1.6 million reasons why I won’t support it,” said Hender, who added that people who don’t like parking fines or overdue fees should not overstay their car parks in the first place.

“If you don’t like it, don’t do it,” she said.

But North Adelaide councillor Phil Martin told the meeting: “Forgetting a parking ticket is something all of us do.”

Area councillor Anne Moran argued that people were not offended by having to pay parking fines, but were unhappy with paying additional fees.

“It’s not the getting of the fine – it’s the lack of compassion,” she said.

A “compassionate council” would send “a polite letter to remind someone who has obviously forgot,” according to Moran.

“I don’t think this is a large amount,” she added, referring to the cost of the policy to the council’s budget.

In the same motion, the council voted to allow its parking inspectors to hand out warnings, rather than fines, to people who break road rules related to parking for the first time in at least 12 months.

Offences in this category include parking within a metre of a fire hydrant and failing to park in the direction of travel.

Implementing the free reminder letter policy is expected to take six to nine months while allowing parking inspectors to issue warnings can be implemented almost immediately.

The suite of measures signals a more permissive approach to parking expiations from the city council, with more changes expected with the implementation of smart-parking technology.

The council is near the end of a procurement process for smart parking sensors, to be installed in the centre of the CBD by June next year.

The sensors will allow reminders to be sent, through an app, to parkers’ mobile phones to inform them when a park is about to run out –asking whether the driver wants to top it up rather than receive a fine.

The council also voted to approve a new, overarching parking policy document, featuring less-punitive language concerning the purpose of parking expiations.

Also at last night’s meeting – the final regular meeting for the year – the council asked its administration to compile a report on how it might buy portable electricity generators for hire to city ratepayers during a blackout.

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