Police and councils in tussle over who issues parking tickets

Sydney Morning Herald

26 March 1998
By Robert Wainwright, Transport Writer

A turf war between the Police Commissioner, Mr Ryan, and Sydney councils has erupted over the right to issue parking tickets and reap the multi-million-dollar revenue.

A Police Service spokesperson confirmed last night that existing contracts with councils would not be renewed, diverting parking infringement fines back to police coffers.

Last year, police wrote 750,000 tickets across NSW worth about $40 million. Councils, which have to negotiate patrol areas with local police commanders, earned an estimated $20 million from tickets issued by their rangers.

But Mr Ryan, who has aired concerns about his limited budget, insists councils should bow out.

"Parking police provide a valuable intelligence source to local police," a spokesman for Mr Ryan said.

"Current agreements between police and local governments regarding on-street parking enforcement will be allowed to run their full term."

The problem has also drawn the attention of the NSW Auditor-General, Mr Tony Harris, who confirmed yesterday that he planned to investigate parking ordinances.

But the move has upset the chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Mr Harold Scruby, who said it would lead to parking chaos on city streets.

"Police will simply not attend to parking matters and it is our view that they should not be involved in this area of policing," he said.

"We are fully supported by the RTA [Roads and Traffic Authority] who have put their views in writing, stating that they believe all parking enforcement should be transferred to councils."

Sydney City Council earns more than $2 million a year from parking tickets, while councils such as North Sydney and Pittwater each collect about $1 million a year.