New controls put paid to free street parking

Illawarra Mercury

Wednesday 17 July 2002

Illawarra motorists have less than a week left of free on-street parking before they once again get nailed by the “grey ghosts".

From Monday, council-authorised parking officers will walk the beat, issuing infringement notices to illegally parked vehicles.

Wollongong City Council will introduce five specially trained parking officers.

It's all part of the region's local councils acting to assume responsibility for parking by-law enforcement from NSW Police.

The statewide initiative was finalised when an amendment to the Local Government Act 1993 was passed by Parliament last month.

All NSW local government authorities will assume control for parking patrols from Monday.

Wollongong Police traffic services senior constable Glenn Hall said three parking police who had recently left the service had not been replaced, in anticipation of the responsibility being handed to councils.

And that meant a free parking bonanza for motorists until the handover. In the interim, police officers were asked to take on parking inspection in addition to other duties - no small order - while council rangers at Shellharbour and Kiama councils concentrated only on illegal parking in disabled bays.

Wollongong City Council general manager Rod Oxley said the reintroduction of parking patrols would end the “free run" many CBD motorists had enjoyed for the past six months. He could not confirm whether the council would also push for CBD parking meters.

“That's subject to further investigation," he said.

“We're doing a broader traffic management and parking study and whether that is an outcome ... I can't speculate at this stage."

Environment and health manager Lisa Miller said a council report on street parking would look at the effect of similar meter installations in other councils.

Shellharbour council spokesperson Frank Boom said the council planned to have its five general rangers assume parking patrol duties.

He said it was unlikely Shellharbour would install parking meters in the near future.

“It's not something we would recommend - I don't think there's a need in Shellharbour,” he said.

Kiama council acting general manager Brian Whittaker said Kiama would not be looking at employing a full-time parking patrol officer.

None of the three councils had assessed projected revenue from the parking patrols, but expected it would go into council consolidated revenue and be put toward public works.


The ongoing saga

* June 1996: Mosman councillor Harold Scruby calls for the handing over of parking by-law enforcement to local councils.

* March 1998: Police Commissioner Peter Ryan pushes for police to retain on-street parking enforcement “in order to maximise a police presence on the streets".

* November 1999: A highly critical NSW Auditor-General's report recommends the Police Service be stripped of its power to issue parking tickets.

* November 1999: NSW parking police threaten industrial action unless they are guaranteed a police-to-council handover will not take place.

* January, May, October 2000: Local Government Association puts in three separate submissions that councils should hand out parking infringements statewide.

* January 2002: Lake Illawarra Area Command parking officer Carol Upward is the “last woman standing" in Wollongong after her last colleague resigns.

* February 2002: Local Government Association meets to finalise negotiations for a handover.

* June 2002: Local Government Amendment (Enforcement of Parking and Related Offences) Bill 2002 passed.

* July 2002: Parking by-law enforcement responsibility formally handed over from NSW Police Service to local government authorities.