7 September 2020

"Morally I'm right, legally I got pinged": the case of Jerra Jim versus the council

| Dominic Giannini
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Jim Holmes

Jim Holmes says he has been made a scapegoat by council rangers. Photo: Michael Weaver.

If every man’s home is his castle, what’s the nature strip?

Reminiscent of Darryl Kerrigan fighting all the way to the High Court in The Castle, Jerrabomberra resident Jim Holmes decided to take on the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) over two parking fines – and finished more than $3000 out of pocket.

Like many residents, Jim has parked his car up on the kerb to get off a busy street. He says most of the street’s residents opt to do the same, or park completely off the road on the verge.

“I have parked in this position outside of my Jerrabomberra residence for many years without issue,” Jim said.

“It just gets me off the busy road a little. There have been many accidents along my section of road – all side-swipes or rear-enders.”

But now Jim claims he has been made a scapegoat after a ranger hit him with two fines, despite leaving all the other cars in the street untouched.

“Morally I am right, but legally I got pinged,” Jim said.

The evidence

The photo taken by the ranger outside Jim’s home in Jerrabomberra. Photo: Supplied.

The two offences attracted $536 in fines but ended up costing Jim fees, a solicitor and ten months of angst because of COVID-19 delays and court adjournments.

Now he wants to warn residents who may have become complacent about parking outside their own homes because “right through Queanbeyan and Jerrabomberra, there remain hundreds of cars, trailers and caravans still parked permanently on nature strips”.

READ ALSO Is it time to rethink Canberra’s roads?

NSW road rule number 197 prohibits parking on footpaths and nature strips except “on road-related areas that are specifically intended or constructed for the purpose of parking of vehicles”.

However, off-road parking may be considered on a narrow road where “on-road parking on one or both sides of the road restricts the free movement of vehicles”.

In true Darryl Kerrigan fashion, Jim is looking to continue his kerb crusade. He maintains that the rules are ambiguous and it is a safety issue along his street. He says he will seek a second opinion from another solicitor after the first decided to stop pursuing the matter.

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ChrisinTurner6:53 pm 10 Sep 20

I wish our Canberra parking inspectors had the same attitude. People kill the street trees here by parking on “their” nature strip and the parking officers look the other way. Even in heritage zones like Reid the street trees are dying.

In another article which mentions this story the street name is mentioned, it is Brudenell Drive.

Looking at google maps you an actually see this guys vehicle parked out the front of his house.

That picture confirmed what I suspected which is the footpath swings from being in a few metres to being next to the road at his property and looking at the google earth picture it would appear the front of the guys car is over part of the footpath where it is close to the gutter. If this is how he regularly parks I would have no doubt the reason why he has been targeted (and not others in the same street) is someone has complained that he is partially blocking the footpath.

Why would you buy/rent a property that didn’t have sufficient space for your vehicles?
It’s about time some of the road rules were enforced – we have these laws that people get used to breaking habitually, and then they get the idea that others don’t matter. If parking on nature strips is not an issue, or driving in clear weather with fog lights on is not glaring to other drivers then change the laws, otherwise enforce the laws – it’s pointless to have laws that aren’t enforced and end up being disobeyed more often than not.

I live on this street and there has been 6 accident in the last year.
3 times some have rear-ended a park car. this why people are parking on the kerb
2 x rear ends on the road and yesterday someone ran to a tree.
The council needs to do something before someone dies

Why is it the responsibility of the Council to do something just because people can’t think far enough ahead to buy/rent a property that can accommodate them and their stuff?
But I’d also suggest that maybe the people rear-ending parked cars or driving into trees shouldn’t be driving on public roads (how long before these people run over someone walking near the road?)

Look at all the local busybodies on here.
Normal people don’t care if somebody parks on a nature strip. Find something better to do with your time.

Finally a good use for the road. I should place all my vehicles on it as per law, keeping my driveway and or garage reserved for morning walks.
I hope my neighbours also get in on this as vehicles on both sides will complete the look.

HiddenDragon6:38 pm 07 Sep 20

This is surely a case of the Council being prodded by a narky neighbour – unless they’ve started taking themselves more seriously since the merger, Queanbeyan seemed to have a fairly relaxed approach to such matters compared to what happens on this side of the border.

Looking at the picture I wonder if the reason he got a fine is because the footpath at that point moves from being a few metres in to being next to the gutter and it is close to an intersection.

Whilst illegal people only normally get done if they are causing an obstruction of some type.

“Morally, I’m right”………OK Boomer.

> But now Jim claims he has been made a scapegoat after a ranger hit him with two fines, despite leaving all the other cars in the street untouched.

That is the issue right there. Of course, Jim would have to – at the very least – prove that there were other cars in the street at the time likewise flouting the law, prove that they weren’t charged, and possibly come up with some nefarious reason as to why.

The lesson here, if any, is “there isn’t a lot of point dragging yourself through the courts when you are quite obviously in the wrong”.

He is not obstructing traffic, he is parking safely. He has got two tyres on a curb, not on the grass. and it looks like that is a parking gravel area on the verge area. So he is in the right because it is an “on road-related areas that are specifically intended or constructed for the purpose of parking of vehicles”. But cue the usual finger-wagging defenders of petty nanny state rules who wouldn’t know what discretion or common sense means.

Just because you put gravel on the nature strip doesn’t magically make it a parking area!

The fact other vehicles have not been fined doIng similar things would lead me to believe there is just something a bit different here.

Looking at the picture I see the foot path goes from being 2m in from the gutter to right next to the gutter just in front of the vehicle. Maybe when he was fined he was parking in a way that partially blocked the footpath. Also close to an intersection too though think in NSW you can park on the continuing side of a T intersection provided there are no signs and line marking.

As I said I would be sure there is a bit more to this than just a random pair of fines targeting this vehicle. There will be a reason.

I would cheer if the ACT Gov decided to start blitzing on this road rule. Fine away!

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