If you make the rules, then perhaps you should play by them.
“It’s simple,” says Tauranga man Patrick Thomas. “One rule for everyone. That’s fair.”
TCC work cars spotted parked on The Strand extension behind Westpac building.
Patrick is a retired electrician, a ratepayer and a shrewd observer. And what he’s been observing lately is something he’s believes is a breach of power and privilege.
“It gets up my nose,” says Patrick. He’s observed Tauranga City Council parking its work cars in The Strand extension behind its offices in the Westpac bank building.
The cars are parked on metered parking spaces. And here’s the rub. “I notice the council isn’t paying to park the cars there, it’s not feeding the meter.” And what’s more it seems the council is enjoying immunity from its own bylaws. “The cars aren’t being ticketed.”
He recommended Sun Media go see for itself. So we did.
It was 10.50am on Monday morning. There were three council vehicles in pay-for-use carparks on The Strand extension. They were a Ford utility EML790, a Daihatsu EQG508 and a Suzuki HZU508. All had TCC livery. None displayed parking receipts and all three were parked for at least half an hour. And no tickets.
“Just three cars?” says Patrick. “I have seen as many as 10 – and it gets up my nose. Because other people get parking tickets. And I don’t think the council should be above the law, especially their own law.”
And, says Patrick, the council is depriving ratepayers who are willing to pay a premium for CBD parking. “They even park with impunity on the loading zones if all the carparks are full.”
Patrick is a local – he lives at the end of The Strand extension – and when he wanders up to the library he “observes” and takes a mental note of registration numbers.
“When I’m heading home the majority of the council cars are still there.” For example, he says, last Friday one car, fleet number 714, was on a metered space for two-and-a-half to three hours.
He raised the issue with lawmakers and the perpetrators – both of whom are the Tauranga City Council.
“I went into the council; they were up front and honest. I was told there’s some disagreement. Someone’s saying council shouldn’t have to pay for parking while someone else was saying: ‘Yes they do’ because essentially they are just members of the public when driving a vehicle.”
Patrick followed up his visit to the council with a couple of phone calls because nothing had changed. “‘It was in hand,’ they told me. Department heads were being consulted to resolve the problem.”
And in a second conversation he was told the respective departmental heads would be spoken to yet again.
So is there one rule for ratepayers and another for council? Are they above the law? Sun Media went to Tauranga City Council’s transportation manager Martin Parkes.
“Under the Traffic and Parking Bylaw 2012, branded TCC vehicles may park free of charge in any parking space, provided the officer is engaged in council work.”
However, Martin says they should only be parked there for short periods.
The council agrees with Patrick – that on-street carparks should, in the main, be available for ratepayers coming to the city centre for business or pleasure.
The council’s been looking for alternative staff parking and has created a newly marked-out parking area on the southern end of the waterfront.
“That should ease the need for council parking on The Strand extension and also address concerns raised by our community,” says Martin.
“Some council vehicles will still be on The Strand extension, but only for short periods.”