Crackdown fury

Residents protest parking fine blitz

Wednesday 8 May 2002

Photo: Angry over fines ... Kerry Spence and James Ricketson
PALM Beach residents have criticised Pittwater Council for a weekend crackdown on illegal parking, which they say came without warning.

Motorists denounced the council after the blitz by rangers on cars parked at 90 degrees to the kerb on Sunday.
However, the council said it was forced to act by the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA).

Pittwater Council environmental compliance manager Jeff Lofts said there had been “comprehensive complaints” from the PCA about parking irregularities.

“If we get a complaint we are effectively placed on notice and are obliged to act,” Mr Lofts said.

PCA chairman Harold Scruby was critical of the council's inaction over illegally parked cars in the past.

He said his organisation had sent the council photographs of women with strollers being forced to walk on to the road to get around illegally parked cars and said it was a serious safety issue.

“There should be a safety audit and they should put in signs to stop illegal parking,” he said.

“If there are no signs to the contrary, cars must be parked in the direction of the traffic flow.”

Mr Scruby said Pittwater Council had obtained legal advice that rangers had to issue fines for breaches of the road rules or risk being accused of “improper, unlawful or even corrupt” behaviour.

Cars outside the Palm Beach Golf Club in Beach Rd and cars in Florida Rd and Waratah St were each issued with $63 fines in Sunday's blitz.

Palm Beach resident Julian Malnic said “predatory bookings such as these have caused a great deal of ill will in the area for some time”.

Mr Malnic said more than 20 cars were neatly parked at 90 degrees to the kerb outside the golf club, as has been the practice for decades but rangers told owners their cars should be parked parallel to the kerb.

“Surely this kind of action against the public, without due notice, must be legally improper and leave the council open to claims for vexation,” he said.

“A council must be desperate for revenue if it changes the rules and then skimps on signs so it can catch more offenders.”
Whale Beach resident James Ricketson said he had parked at right angles to the kerb in Florida Rd for more than 30 years, as had others in the area.

“Given that the space is indented from the road it is the most commonsense way to park in this place, allowing a maximum number of cars to park without in any way impeding the traffic flow,” he said. “Why was there no sign to this effect warning motorists of the change to the rules?”

Stephen Katz, of St Ives, was fined when, while visiting friends at Palm Beach, he parked in Waratah St “in such a way so as not to create a traffic hazard of any type and also to enable other vehicles to park”.
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