POLL: Parking pain as fines rise

Nanjing Night Net

PARKING fine revenue soared 10 per cent across the Hunter last year and is on track to top $5 million this year.

Data from the NSW Office of State Revenue reveals Hunter motorists racked up fines worth more than $4.5 million in 2011-2012, up from $4.1 million the year before.

Eight months into 2012-13, the figure had already topped $3.2 million.

Most of the 37,804 fines in 2011-12 were written out by rangers from the region’s 10 councils, who issued 34,937 tickets amounting to $4.2 million in fines.

Newcastle City Council alone slugged motorists $2.8 million in the 12 months to June 30 last year, 62 per cent of the Hunter’s total. But other institutions are also contributing, with the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health also cracking down.

The university fined motorists nearly $200,000 last year, an increase of $50,000 on the previous year.

Hunter New England Health has so far trebled the value of parking fines it has handed out at its facilities this year.

It has issued fines worth more than $100,000 in the eight months to February 2013, against a total of less than $35,000 for 2011-12.

Newcastle City Council employs 13 parking compliance officers. It has raised more than $2.2 million in the first eight months of this financial year.

Nearly 70 per cent of the fines issued by Newcastle City Council this financial year were handed out in the city centre.

The vast majority of those, nearly 90 per cent, were for ticket parking and timed offences, as opposed to safety offences, according to data provided by the council.

Newcastle City Council compliance services manager Adam Gilligan said the council aimed to strike a balance between achieving parking turnover and addressing issues of safety.

‘‘The main reason we target parking turnover is to ensure that we have places reserved for people who want to come into the city to do some shopping or conduct their business, and they are not for office workers to take up for the whole day,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s about letting people easily visit businesses. It’s counter-productive for workers to keep feeding the meters. We will occasionally have businesses saying ‘your guys are fining our staff’ and they are not happy about that, but we say ‘it’s better if you are not there because where are your customers going to park?’ ’’

The most commonly issued infringement notices, the ‘‘high flyers’’, were easy to pick, Mr Gilligan said – park without current ticket displayed, and park after ticket expires – but a high proportion of tickets were also issued for parking on footpaths, and parking in no-stopping zones or across driveways.

Of the 27,000 fines issued last year, only about 3 per cent were appealed, he said.

Meters prove civic money mint

ON top of the millions Newcastle City Council is raising in fines revenue every year, it is gathering millions more from parking meters.

For the six months to December31 last year, it recorded a profit of $2.1million.

More than $3.4million was fed into parking meters – and more than $800,000 in the eastern end of the city alone – during the second half of last year.

Ranked behind the City East precinct were The Foreshore and Civic, which swallowed $336,984 and $391,229 respectively.

The City West precinct was another big earner, with motorists putting through $298,919 in the six months to December 31.

Next was Newcastle West, where parking meters garnered $193,067.

The surplus – or profit – recorded by the council takes into account expenditure, depreciation and recharges.

New spots for games

By MATT CARR

KNIGHTS fans have won more game-day parking in a bid to cut fines for supporters heading to home games.

District Park and the Newcastle Harness Racing Club will both open to unreserved paid parking beginning with tomorrow’s clash with Penrith.

The Newcastle Herald has reported fans attending games this season have been frustrated after receiving fines in areas they said were not signposted.

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said the club had taken the problem seriously and had begun negotiations with stakeholders including Newcastle City Council.

‘‘We were determined to find a solution to prevent our members and supporters being fined,’’ Gidley said.

“We have taken that feedback on board and with the help of the Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy and Hunter Venues, we have been able to find a solution that will benefit Knights supporters.”

Harness club parking is $10 and reached from Jackson Street while the District Park spots are open subject to weather.

Parking at District Park is $7 and accessible from Lambton Road along Bavin Street and Perth Road.

Casual parking can also be purchased through PROticket on a match-by-match basis.