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Council to consider report to reimburse motorists

Council to consider report to reimburse motorists

Christchurch City Council’s Chief Executive Tony Marryatt is recommending that Council reimburse motorists who received fines in error since February 2005 for  a variety of offences where there were no signs advising them their actions would be illegal. 

Mr Marryatt’s recommendation will be discussed by Council when it meets tomorrow (Thursday) to adopt a package of eight bylaws. This follows a review of the bylaws in the Christchurch City/Banks Peninsula districts by 30 June 2008 as required by the Local Government Act 2002.

During deliberations on the Traffic and Parking Bylaw the hearing panel, chaired by Councillor Sue Wells identified a disconnect between Government legislation and local Government bylaws.

Government regulations which came into force on 27 February 2005 say that where a Council is imposing parking, standing or stopping regulations, it must have signs to inform people, so a blanket ban is not possible and a register is not needed.

Signs need to be erected to control the following offences:

Displaying vehicles on street
Advertising on road
Displaying vehicles on street (sale)
Vehicle in parks and flower beds, grass plots and landscaped areas
Vehicles on grass verges/berms
Immobile vehicle on road more than seven days
Special vehicle-cycle lanes

However, this Government regulation was not reflected in the proposal that went out for consultation which included a blanket ban on stopping, standing or parking on grass verges (in urban areas) and on grass berms.

“When we became aware of the disconnect between the Central Government legislation and our current Traffic and Parking Bylaw earlier this year, we stopped issuing infringement notices,” Mr Marryatt says.

“It is a complex legal situation and one which we understand councils throughout the country are grappling with.

“In my report I am pointing out that  we were wrong to issue tickets when we didn’t have the appropriate warning signs. I am suggesting that a way to redress this in an upfront and honourable way is to offer  to reimburse fines that we collected without having the authority to do so. “

Council records show that the Council has received payment for 1946 tickets since the signage requirement came into force in February 2005. The penalty  for most of the infringement notices in question was $40.

If Mr Marryatt’s recommendations are approved by Council, further information will be released on the process for reimbursement.

The Council understands local authorities throughout the country have encountered similar problems while reviewing their traffic and parking bylaws.

“This Council will be working through the Local Government New Zealand networks to develop a coordinated response on the issue,” Mr Marryatt says.

“What could come out of this is that we make representations to Government for changes to legislation which make it more workable and relevant at a local government level.”

The new Traffic and Parking Bylaw to be considered by Council this Thursday reflects the regulations that require prescribed signs to be erected to warn motorists.


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