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Parking officers keen to chase up unpaid fines

Parking officers keen to chase up unpaid parking fines, instead of going through the courts

New Zealand’s parking officers are keen to chase up unpaid parking fines rather than trawling the process through the courts.

The Ministry of Justice is currently investigating the parking infringement process.

Currently the Department of Courts chase unpaid fines but parking officers would like to see local authorities take over the role.

New Zealand Parking Association chairman Colin Waite said today the ministry was looking at options to change the payment system of parking fines.

``We feel the collection of parking fines needs changing,’’ Mr Waite said at the 21st annual New Zealand parking conference in Nelson today.

``We should merge the best part of the UK system and the best of the Australian state models and change our system here.’’

``We believe the courts should not be involved in collection of unpaid fines any more.’’

``We feel there would be a significant saving to the country by us collecting overdue fines. For every parking file we lodge with the courts there is a lodgement fee of $30. We could save the courts, time, effort and resources by doing it ourselves. The overdue fines wouldn’t clog up the courts.’’

Mr Waite estimated over one million parking fines were issued in New Zealand every year.

He said if ticket officers issued parking fines in the first place it would make sense for continuity and cost to see the process through to the end.

Local authorities would need to be given powers to employ debt collecting agencies to collect longer overdue unpaid fines.

The matter of parking fines was decriminalised in the UK in the 1990s and people with overdue fines are not sent to court.

The parking conference has already heard a call for the public to better treat the country’s 500 parking officers. Ticket officers also said they want to take over some traffic enforcement functions from the police. They would be responsible for speed cameras and for driving offences, under the scheme. If they received Government support for local authorities to be given more road safety powers, they would be able to require proof of identity.

Stuart Lawrenson, the European chief executive for Central Parking System, has been guest speaker at the conference.

He said New Zealand had to be wary if it decriminalised the parking ticket system.

``You have to be careful that if there are no checks and balances in the system parking enforcement, it can become a money raiser.’’

Lawrenson’s company, Central Parking Corporation, has been the world’s largest parking services provider since 1958, with over 20,000 staff in 15 countries.

Allied to the conference is the largest NZ trade display of equipment and suppliers to the parking industry.

One of the suppliers, Reino International of Australia, will be presenting an award for parking excellence to one of this year’s delegates. The award recognises contributions to the industry as well as recognising the struggles that some parking wardens have in their city.

The conference is an annual event for the NZ Parking Association which is represented by 48 territorial local authorities and one international airport company. They all carry out parking enforcement in New Zealand. Copyright 2004 Word of Mouth Media NZ

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