Fines on a sunny day

Daily Telegraph

Monday 29 March 2004
By STAVRO SOFIOS Political Reporter

A MILD autumn or spring day, with temperatures in the low 20s and no rain, is the worst time to cop a parking fine in Sydney.

Parking officers are out in force when the weather is just right making this time of year peak fine time, a Daily Telegraph investigation reveals.

But if the temperature changes just a few degrees and the heavens even look like they might open up the city's grey ghosts head for cover and the number of fines handed out tumbles.

Fines also increase at the end of the week and the end of the month, adding fuel to widely held theories of "unofficial" quotas parking officers need to fill.

Figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws reveal what motorists have long suspected weather is a key factor in how many parking officers are on the streets and the number of fines issued.

The Daily Telegraph analysed the number of fines handed out in the last three months of last year in the Sydney metropolitan area and compared it with the temperature on each day.

On October 13, 2421 fines were issued on a drizzly 18C spring day.
As the temperature increased to 20C the next day and the skies cleared, the number of fines handed out also increased 27 per cent to 3064.

What made it worse was last October was the coldest in 11 years with the average maximum temperature for the month just 21.4C ideal ticket-writing weather.

The investigation revealed:
* AN average 2800 fines are issued every weekday and about 1000 less on weekends;
* COUNCILS reaped $19.92 million in just three months, issuing 229,961 fines processed by the beleaguered Infringement Processing Bureau;
* FINES bring in about $250,000 revenue a day with money going to local councils since the State Government handed over parking police powers two years ago;
* AT least one scrooge parking officer issued 12 parking fines to people on Christmas Day

The figures reveal parking officers issue fewer fines when the temperature drops below 20C and the mercury heads above 27C.

Mondays are also quieter even if the temperature is ideal but Wednesdays and Thursdays seem to be the busiest days.

As summer hit, the number of fines also dropped on October 29, 3503 fines were issued compared with 2960 on October 8, despite similar weather conditions on both days.

On December 11, 3344 fines were issued as the temperature hit the high 20s, but the number dropped 45 per cent the next day as the temperature plummeted to 19C and 12mm of rain was recorded.

Motorists who overstay parking limits could be in for more trouble, with Roads Minister Carl Scully yesterday confirming he was still looking at a multiple fine policy.

Currently, motorists can only be fined once a day regardless of how long they stay illegally parked.
"Overstaying your paid time is unfair to fellow motorists," Mr Scully said.

Councils earn more than $100 million a year out of fines, double what the State Government used to make when fines were under the jurisdiction of police.

The City of Sydney Council made $13.9 million last financial year from parking fines.