Fete parking angst can be avoided with a little straight talking and planning

Ian Bushnell 24 November 2019 29
Licence Plate Recognition van

A Licence Plate Recognition van: serving the public interest. Photo: File.

It seems parking has always been a thorny issue in the ACT but fines handed out at school fetes this spring have certainly hit some raw nerves.

Fete organisers for St Thomas the Apostle Primary School in Kambah wrote to the Government about what the Canberra Liberals called parking inspectors’ predatory practices. They allege the event was targeted and have asked for dozens of fines to be waived.

Hang on a bit, the Government said, people broke the law and the rules are there for a reason, whether that be for safety or environmental reasons.

And there were ways for schools to work with authorities to manage event parking. On the day in question, the infamous Licence Plate Recognition van visited two other schools without registering a fine.

While at first blush it may seem that a little discretion could be shown for these one-off events, the comments on the story were not one-way traffic, with plenty of support for the Government’s position, and law and order in general.

St Thomas is but one of a number of school fetes that has fallen foul of parking inspectors who police events, not necessarily school fetes, to ensure public safety, and that nature strips and trees are protected.

To suggest that the practice is predatory may be an easy headline but it ignores the fact that the inspectors are serving a public interest, not merely revenue-raising as many Canberrans seem to think when it comes to traffic regulation in this city.

Of course, the angst among the schools affected is understandable. Who expects to cop a $123 fine at your local fete? And there is scope for discretion. But we also heard from people who were there on the day that some of the parking was clearly not safe.

The Government says Access Canberra can help schools and others prepare for their events and manage their parking.

Was that known to the schools? Did the schools advise fete goers to stick to designated parking areas, obey the signs and stay off grassed areas? Was priority parking available for volunteers and people who may not be able to walk long distances?

How proactive has Access Canberra been in reaching out to schools in what is a busy fete season to head off these situations? Is it possible for some one-off exemptions to be issued?

The issue has shone a light on how a little more communication all-round and some preparation could go a long way toward making the situation clear for everybody.

But human behaviour being what it is, sometimes the only way for some people to get the message is to be hit in the hip pocket.

Because, just like for speeding or drink driving, the laws are there for a reason and breaking them can have serious consequences, least of which is being out of pocket.

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29 Responses to Fete parking angst can be avoided with a little straight talking and planning
Nic Liz Moyle Nic Liz Moyle 8:11 pm 29 Nov 19

Andrew Rohrsheim Anna Thorpe I can’t tag Mr B.

Jimb Omm Jimb Omm 7:45 pm 27 Nov 19

People in Canberra have some sickness that makes them obsessed about parking. Get a grip folks

Tim Mcphail Tim Mcphail 6:34 am 26 Nov 19

Got to pay for the light rail somehow . Every little bit counts .

bigred bigred 1:35 am 26 Nov 19

I will continue to have a lot of sympathy for people caught by this van (well really there is two of them) until it has saturation application of the technology, rather than the seemingly haphazard approach. I pass a number of schools during the course of the week, and it is pretty easy to tell those that have had a van do a cruise by or three – the parking is so much more orderly, albeit some people are walking a bit further.

Toshak Akita Toshak Akita 6:55 pm 25 Nov 19

Onya Andy...

Acton Acton 11:52 am 25 Nov 19

This is how the ACT Government thinks. Build apartments, cut down on green spaces and available parking. Install lots of ‘No Parking’ signs. When people come to their once a year school fetes, there is less parking available, forcing them to park in the ‘No Parking’ zones. Tut, tut says the ACT Government and its smirking ALP apologists. But exactly what was planned all along. Take away parking spots, force people to park illegally, boost revenue.

    astro2 astro2 9:56 pm 25 Nov 19

    No, they’re not “forced to park in No Parking zones.” They choose to park there because they couldn’t be bothered parking in a legal area and walking a bit. Poor little snowflakes.

Bryanna Dawe Bryanna Dawe 11:19 am 25 Nov 19

They should target good shepherd church/school in Amaroo any time there is mass or any event there. People park in bus zones so no one can use them, on peoples front yards, across driveways, dangerously on the road etc. There's another school Carpark just a 2 minute walkaway that they can use, but they dont

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 10:49 am 25 Nov 19

Has the ACT Government started to book the hundreds of cars parked in the Limestone Ave median strip on Anzac Day?

Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 8:52 am 25 Nov 19

What about the parking fines issued to shoppers supporting our farmers on Sundays southside Farmers markets?

The Canberra College doesn't have a big enough carpark to support the markets, so people park over the road at the town park and were parking along Launceston street outside the college, (where there is plenty of room for other vehicles to pass as it is two lanes)but a few weeks of targeted parking infringements has stopped many people from going now. This has hurt the farmers' and local growers at a time when they need all the support we can give.

It's had the immediate effect of killing off at least half the patronage.

    Penny Gordon Penny Gordon 9:27 am 25 Nov 19

    From memory there is no parking in front of the college as there is a bike lane there, and that is why people were fined.

    Martin McMaster Martin McMaster 11:53 am 25 Nov 19

    I don't understand. Illegal parking is OK if you are supporting something? Supporting a cause trumps safety or ground compaction affect on trees?

    Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 10:23 pm 25 Nov 19

    Martin McMaster no of course not, but most weekend events in the suburbs are at places which simply don't have the parking spaces.

    Back in the day, it was never an issue, but now that's all changed.

    Claire Perry Claire Perry 8:48 am 26 Nov 19

    there's plenty of parking in the Callam Offices carkpark on a weekend. You might need to make two trips though if you buy too much to carry in one go. or bring a shopping cart.

Archie Mac Archie Mac 8:17 am 25 Nov 19

Please🙄 where are all these kids getting run over at school crossings because drivers can’t see them due to a car parked on the curb?

Do we have stats?

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 9:32 am 25 Nov 19

    Yeah, let's wait till a few kids get hit and then maybe do something about this issue. Sounds like a great plan.

    Archie Mac Archie Mac 9:33 am 25 Nov 19

    Lin Van Oevelen - hahaha, predictable overreaction response

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 11:43 am 25 Nov 19

    Sounds to me like you're overreacting to people saying you shouldn't park illegally in a spot where you obscure the view of the school crossing.

    Archie Mac Archie Mac 11:45 am 25 Nov 19

    Lin Van Oevelen - Hahsha - what I’m saying is it makes little to no difference. But I’m sure the people who were fined by your nice calls appreciate your efforts

    Martin McMaster Martin McMaster 11:56 am 25 Nov 19

    The only way to test this is to have unrestricted parking around schools and collect comparative stats. not very ethical unfortunately. Possibly the controls are working!

    Archie Mac Archie Mac 12:00 pm 25 Nov 19

    Possibly- I drive past my kids school regularly and at busy times cars are parked in the island between the roads. I have no issue with seeing the crossings but the inspectors are still making money

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 2:01 pm 25 Nov 19

    So because no cars parked on the nature strip obstruct the view of the crossings at your school, that must mean it doesn't happen at any school?

    I don't particularly object to people parking on median or nature strips either as long as it's not dangerous. But I understand that they have to make the rules black and white.

    And while I'm not at all the type of person who thinks that one must always follow every rule for the sake of it, I actually manage to never park in no parking zones. I think I just find it a bit of an arrogant thing to do.

    Archie Mac Archie Mac 6:30 pm 25 Nov 19

    Simply think it’s an over reaction. Drivers doing 40 - and crossing clearly marked. Still would like to see the stats on children hit on school crossings

    If everyone obeyed all the rules nothing would ever change. I think most of these fines are simply an excuse to make money

    Anyway I respect your opinion and will leave it there

Kate Carey Kate Carey 8:06 am 25 Nov 19

Why can't people just park legally? 🤔

Brent Hampton Brent Hampton 7:48 am 25 Nov 19

we struggle to get people out to support their communities but then when we do, the government do this kind of thing...and please don’t play the “for safety” card - the amount of t-intersections in Canberra that you can’t see left or right at because of cars parked in designated paid parking car spots along the side of those roads, it’s a joke

    Nick Fowl Fowler Nick Fowl Fowler 9:44 am 25 Nov 19

    Government revenue raising at its finest

    Malachy McNeill Malachy McNeill 10:25 am 25 Nov 19

    My work colleague got one these drive by fines on Friday parked out side the building site we are working on in Campbell it’s a big wide quiet road and not Infringing on anyone it’s all about revenue 100%

    Ryan Daniel Ryan Daniel 7:17 pm 25 Nov 19

    Brent Hampton there are always examples on either side. I’m sure there are some people parking in a dangerous way in front of school pick up areas on school days and maybe some of them had choices to park safely and didn’t. But they don’t use discretion for this sort of thing and only fine people when it’s unsafe. And there are plenty of examples of fines being issued when there is no safety issue at all with where that specific person parked at that time. Say parking on the road is obstructing the view of the road and potentially pedestrians, so you park up on the grass, nowhere near a tree, on plain dirt with no grass, and far away from any crossing or footpath, meaning there is no safety issue, you’d still get a fine, when potentially the alternative spot on the road was less safe. I think the blanket drive by and fine everyone approach is where people see it as revenue raising when circumstances like this exist. And I’m sure people will counter with “but what about x circumstance where it is dangerous”, and that’s fine. But using some common sense and fining only those who are actually doing unreasonable unsafe things is generally what we experience from most police here, but not the parking inspectors. I’m sure cops drive past these things and don’t fine people, when they can. Because it’s often not a big deal (though it sounds like it commonly is at certain schools). If it is a really bad problem then even the police will pull over to fine someone if they aren’t tending to something more important .

Gary Poile Gary Poile 7:34 am 25 Nov 19

FREE PARKING at the Collector Community Market Day next Saturday - park anywhere in the village and stay as long as you like!

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