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School fete organisers cry foul at parking fine blitz

Ian Bushnell 18 November 2019 128
Enforcement van

The parking enforcement van’s number plate recognition technology makes it easier to identify offenders and issue fines. Photo: File.

The spring school fete season is well underway but for at least three events the experience has been spoiled by parking inspectors using number plate recognition to slap fines on unwitting drivers.

The latest blitz hit fete-goers supporting St Thomas the Apostle Primary School in Kambah on 9 November, where 11 people so far have copped fines of $123, mostly for parking on nature strips.

Fete co-coordinator Barb Miels-Barrett says the complaints starting coming in on Friday and she has written to Minister for Regulatory Services Gordon Ramsay and City Services Minister Chris Steel, who ironically performed raffle duty at the fete, calling for the fines to be waived.

She says her school is the third that she knows of to be visited by the now-infamous van and she wonders why an event held once a year on a weekend to raise funds for the community should be a target.

“They don’t come around on a Saturday morning to target anything else but that,” Ms Miels-Barrett said.

“It’s mean-sighted, mean-spirited, it’s not fair, it’s not just, it’s not right.”

She says one person was actually in the car waiting for his elderly mother and another needed to park nearby because of their special-needs child. Others were fete volunteers.

Ms Miels-Barrett acknowledged that people should not park dangerously or cause a problem, but the nature strips are quite wide and safety was not an issue.

The school reported no problems at their fete last year with parking inspectors. The enforcement vans, using plate recognition technology, means fines are automatically generated and can capture many offenders in a short space of time. The lack of human contact through an inspector individually booking vehicles means there’s no discretion around parking fines.

Ms Miels-Barrett believes the Government and inspectors should exercise some discretion for these kinds of events.

“It’s legal but where is it fair and just, when you’re trying to raise funds that you can’t get any other way to help continue as a viable community?” she asked.

She says the technology should make it quite easy to identify the “offenders” and waive the fines.

The parking enforcement van also visited Canberra Grammar and Weetangera Primary School on their fete days.

Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder called the parking blitzes predatory.

“It is wrong to prey on fete-goers as a means of revenue-raising,” she said. “Many fete-goers are volunteers who sacrifice their time to support their local community. It is disrespectful to hit participants with hefty fines if they were parking in a safe and reasonable manner. If it’s safe and not blocking access, why must people be pinged at community events?

“Targeting community events for revenue-raising purposes puts a serious dampener on festivities and may discourage people from getting involved.”

She said the Government should focus on improving designated public parking and fixing the disastrous bus network to give the community viable transport options, rather than resorting to predatory attempts at revenue raising.

An ACT Government spokesperson said that on the weekend 9-10 November, Parking Operations attended a number of school fetes and community events.

At the St Thomas the Apostle fete, 50 vehicles were issued with infringement notices for parking dangerously and illegally, but no illegally parked vehicles were identified at the two other school fetes they attended.

Schools and community groups should ensure they included plans for adequate safe and legal parking around their events to ensure attendees were not put at risk by motorists parking illegally, the spokesperson said.

Access Canberra worked with the Education Directorate to provide information to schools to encourage safe parking during events like fetes.

“Drivers should know that it is their responsibility to park legally at all times. Illegal parking practices result in complaints due to inconvenience for local residents and risks to the safety of road users, especially pedestrians,” the spokesperson said.

“This includes blocking pedestrian access and impacting pedestrian safety for vulnerable Canberrans like children and those with a disability, all motorists should park legally at all times so as not to incur an infringement.”

The spokesperson said that when using Licence Plate Recognition (LPR), a parking inspector must assess the individual circumstances of each vehicle before an infringement is issued.

“The LPR team assess issues and gather evidence as they use LPR technology, and review all identified issues after returning to base. If found to be an instance of dangerous and illegal parking, an infringement is issued,” the spokesperson said.

School groups could apply for temporary traffic management permits so there can be a safe outcome when there are limited on-street parking options in their area.

Access Canberra’s event support:

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128 Responses to School fete organisers cry foul at parking fine blitz
Wayne Warton Wayne Warton 6:57 pm 18 Nov 19

Typical dirty money grab by Labor Greens government. What else do you expect.

Brad Rogers Brad Rogers 6:51 pm 18 Nov 19

If you think the liberals are going to be your saviours, and end this practice, think again. They won't.

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 7:05 pm 18 Nov 19

    Brad Rogers says the rusty labor voter

    Brad Rogers Brad Rogers 7:15 pm 18 Nov 19

    Nice assumption there, but I actually can't stand the major 3 parties. Better luck next time.

James Forge James Forge 6:49 pm 18 Nov 19

We went to Wanniassa Hills Primary School fete yesterday.

Looking at all of the vehicles parked on the nature strip I was thinking it could be a bonanza for the ACT Government.

I had to walk 20 metres extra because I parked legally. I could have parked legally and closer but the people parked on the nature strip may have been a little peeved at being parked in.

    Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 9:19 am 19 Nov 19

    James Forge I thought the same thing. Didn't think (hoped) they'd be low enough to go to a cool on a Sunday though. Looks like they went to other schools though.

    They probably look up when schools have functions on and think great time for revenue making.

    James Forge James Forge 9:28 am 19 Nov 19

    They probably do target these functions because they know that people don't seem to care about parking legally.

    I remember Dad being real peeved about being booked for parking on the median strip in Queanbeyan when the Raiders played at Seiffert Oval.

    Back then in the pre ACT self government days it was the done thing to park like that in Canberra and not get booked.

    Unfortunately the ACT government has no imagination about how to raise money for their trips to NZ etc so they just slug house owners and motorists.

    Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 10:00 am 19 Nov 19

    James Forge of course they target them. They have it all preplanned which schools have event on and when. Which schools have insufficient parking for drop off/pick ups and the hot spots on the city where people want to drop off or pick up people, but there is no parking nearby. They loiter and circulate around these areas frequently, effectively like predators for revenue raising.

Luke Bennett Luke Bennett 6:48 pm 18 Nov 19

Fire hydrants and essential services are often located on or accessed via nature strips, and may require emergency access. If you’re too lazy to walk a few mins, and you get fined, suck it up and pay the fine. Don’t expect sympathy if you only got a fine because you’re lazy and knowingly broke the law.

Bill Gemmell Bill Gemmell 6:47 pm 18 Nov 19

Really it is a convenience charge the government imposes randomly on people who have rolled the proverbial dice. The big shame is funds raised from destruction of nature strips are not spent on their remediation. Also, the targeted nature of these activities means a lot of the land in the rest of the place is being compacted further, day in and day out!

Morgan Hitchcock Morgan Hitchcock 6:41 pm 18 Nov 19

Parking on the nature strip compact the soil which kills the grass and the trees. It’s against the law, don’t park on the nature strip...

Erica Flett Erica Flett 6:39 pm 18 Nov 19

Swings and roundabouts, the white Echo parked the wrong way in the bus zone on a Sunday morning has been getting off free. Solution: Don't break the law, apparently bushfires and droughts are more important.

Adrian Fitzgerald Adrian Fitzgerald 6:37 pm 18 Nov 19

Got me at Miles Franklin Evatt,

Alison Davies Alison Davies 6:36 pm 18 Nov 19

A lot of people commenting here and being a bit judgmental. As someone who lives near the school in question, I'm pretty sure the event is set up in the school car park, which means only a small parking area near the Kambah oval and street parking are viable options. These fill up crazy fast and don't really accommodate many cars, certainly not enough for this kind of event if you want it to be successful. I don't think it's ok to fine people waiting to pick up special needs kids or the elderly - they obviously can't walk a great distance and the parking at the school is used for the event - what options do they actually have? I don't think it's a big deal to overlook some parking on the verges for specific occasions - as mentioned in the article, they are quite big and if managed well (eg. with someone directing parking like they do at the footy) it wouldn't block access. It might actually be safer than people street parking in large numbers in the surrounding 8 blocks, which is what happened last year and was pretty chaotic and unsafe. The community needs to be able to have a reasonable conversation about this, without keyboard warriors accusing people of 'crying' over parking tickets, when there are some reasonable points being made and the alternative is low attendance at a community fundraising event because people can't get to it without copping massive fines or walking unfeasible distances. There are parking issues at both St Thomas and Taylor Primary which should be addressed, rather than this kind of mean-spirited revenue raising.

    Glenda Darling Glenda Darling 7:17 pm 18 Nov 19

    Alison Davies simple solution. Its on the school to do this better or not at all.

    Alison Davies Alison Davies 7:20 pm 18 Nov 19

    Glenda Darling, think you're being pretty simplistic. There are probably a few improvements the school can make, but not sure a public school has much control over expanding their parking facilities or whether the government sends parking vans to target a community event.

    Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 8:22 pm 18 Nov 19

    Alison Davies schools have actual parking .... 😂 omg I don’t miss school pick up in the car-

    Gina Baker Gina Baker 8:30 pm 18 Nov 19

    Alison very well said. You are 100% right.

    Alison Davies Alison Davies 8:50 pm 18 Nov 19

    Lauryn Roberts, yeah they do, and it's readily acknowledged at our school there isn't enough.

    Glenda Darling Glenda Darling 9:24 pm 18 Nov 19

    Alison Davies for one they could not use the carpark for the fete. Use the school grounds.

    Alison Davies Alison Davies 9:26 pm 18 Nov 19

    Glenda Darling, I don't think either of us know enough about the fete organisation ins and outs to have that conversation. Goodnight.

Billie Williamson Billie Williamson 6:36 pm 18 Nov 19

Adam Blewitt me and dad went, we parked illegally..

Ricky Toms Ricky Toms 6:32 pm 18 Nov 19

Been doing it at maribrynong primary too... number of students has increased by 400 over the last several years but no change to parking.. parents and staff getting booked

Carl Ostermann Carl Ostermann 6:32 pm 18 Nov 19

I drove past that fete on that day and I could see quite fine and there was absolutely no danger to the public because the motorists were slowing down and there was still plenty of space for two cars to cross paths! It was not a dangerous situation and I do believe it was a money making spin for the government, nothing more

    Imants Ezergailis Imants Ezergailis 9:47 pm 18 Nov 19

    Carl Ostermann : So campaign to have the rules changed??

    Trish Lingard-Wyss Trish Lingard-Wyss 6:55 am 19 Nov 19

    Carl Ostermann you must have had your eyes closed. People were not slowing down.

    Carl Ostermann Carl Ostermann 9:05 pm 20 Nov 19

    Maybe I slowed down then... It was safe!!!

Redmond Herrington Redmond Herrington 6:31 pm 18 Nov 19

Will the Liberals commit to abandoning the parking enforcement vans?

Vanda Catanzariti Vanda Catanzariti 6:22 pm 18 Nov 19

A bunch of scabs!!! 😡

    Mal Selby Mal Selby 6:26 pm 18 Nov 19

    Vanda Catanzariti why are they a bunch of scabs? For doing their job? Maybe the scabs are the ones who park illegally

    Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 6:15 am 19 Nov 19

    Mal Selby because parking on the school grounds or next to it on a Sunday is "breaking the law". Grow up. It's dirty revenue raising, essentially legalised stealing. Those act vans loitering around places where people don't deserve to be fined. The must have low morales of they can sleep well at night.

Mal Selby Mal Selby 6:21 pm 18 Nov 19

So here comes all the keyboard warriers saying they should be entitled to break the law and not get penalised for it

    Peter Benjamin Peter Benjamin 6:25 pm 18 Nov 19

    Mal Selby just like yourself? You appear to be pretty active on this thread. I smell a parking officer

    Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 6:11 am 19 Nov 19

    Mal Selby because parking on the school grounds or next to it on a Sunday is "breaking the law". Grow up. It's dirty revenue raising, essentially legalised stealing. Those act vans loitering around places where people don't deserve to be fined. The must have low morales of they can sleep well at night.

Matthew Windebank Matthew Windebank 6:19 pm 18 Nov 19

Take the van away and let people park wherever they like - it’s not like there’s likely to be kids around ......(tongue in cheek)

Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda 6:18 pm 18 Nov 19

Everyone cry’s when they get a parking fine, but what would happen if someone got hit by a car cause the driver of the other vehicle couldn’t see due to their vision being obstructed. Its simple people park where your meant to and you won’t get a ticket, from a van or an inspector, it’s not rocket science.

    Brendan Wilson Brendan Wilson 6:25 pm 18 Nov 19

    Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda it’s a school fete you pleeb

    Brad Adams Brad Adams 6:27 pm 18 Nov 19

    Brendan Wilson exactly the point. Shouldn’t you be more careful around schools you pleeb??

    Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda 6:34 pm 18 Nov 19

    Brendan Wilson listen mate pleeb or not especially around a school I’d be parking properly. I bet if someone in your family got hurt you’d be the first to complain. Safety first not convenience.

    Ricky Toms Ricky Toms 6:34 pm 18 Nov 19

    Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda the schools parking (all schools) haven’t changed but student numbers have increased dramatically... let’s see if you sing the same tune if you go to your kids concert.. have no where to park and get booked 😡

    Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda 6:36 pm 18 Nov 19

    Ricky Toms the thing is I get to school with enough time to find proper parking. And I totally understand about school numbers have increased but parking hasn’t.

    Melissa Liddon Melissa Liddon 9:40 pm 18 Nov 19

    With the speed some people drive along Boddington Cct, there’s definitely safety risk. It’s not exactly a quiet cul de sac and on a Saturday it wasn’t operating as a 40 zone.

    Imants Ezergailis Imants Ezergailis 9:43 pm 18 Nov 19

    Brendan Wilson : So park legally when attending school fetes?? 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️

    Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 6:06 am 19 Nov 19

    Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda if you need no cars parked around the roads to drive safely then you should probably hand your licence in.

    Trish Lingard-Wyss Trish Lingard-Wyss 6:49 am 19 Nov 19

    Smashley McForrester I live near this school and just driving down the road is a safety risk when they have their fete. People are idiots doing U turns on a road with traffic lines both sides. Trying to do 60kms when clearly they should slow down because there are so many people and cars everywhere. Blocking traffic because someone is walking to their car and may leave. And the fact they hold the fete in their car park doesn’t help.

    Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda Emma Ciuffetelli-Mirenda 7:07 am 19 Nov 19

    Andrew O'Brien i never said there should be no cars parked around the roads all I’m saying is for people to park where they are meant to. It’s been happening for years if you park illegally then you’ll get a ticket. People still park where they want to. But good luck to all those people.

Leo Menssen Leo Menssen 6:09 pm 18 Nov 19

Park legally and you won't get fined.

Mat Barber Mat Barber 6:06 pm 18 Nov 19

or just park legally? attending a community event doesn't entitle you to unlimited free parking

    Todd Milton Todd Milton 6:15 pm 18 Nov 19

    Mat Barber absolutely. Park in a legal manner and/or walk, ride, scoot, skateboard etc to the event.

    Matt Fallon Matt Fallon 6:18 pm 18 Nov 19

    To do that you may have to park a long way away....

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 6:30 pm 18 Nov 19

    Matt Fallon, like people routinely do for bigger events, like Floriade or Skyfire.

    Surely most of these people know what the parking situation at the school is like, so why can't they plan around that?

    Mal Selby Mal Selby 6:41 pm 18 Nov 19

    Jorge Gatica so you think it's ok to break the law because it's a school event?

    Mat Barber Mat Barber 6:41 pm 18 Nov 19

    Hilarious Jorge but I went to that school as a child, we just walked to the fete, other people who came parked legally nearby, it's really not difficult, nor does it need attempted insults on social media when questioned.

    Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 6:03 am 19 Nov 19

    Mat Barber walked from where? You're silly oif you think all the family's have to walk a family 1-2 km on a hot day to an event they are usually at for a few hours.

    Luke Bennett Luke Bennett 7:22 am 19 Nov 19

    Andrew O'Brien what school fete has ever attracted a crowd so large that people have to park ‘multiple kms’ away? In this town, that’d put you 2-3 suburbs away... talk about fake news!

    Stephen Matthews Stephen Matthews 7:23 am 19 Nov 19

    Cant get parents to park properly on school days

    Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 9:26 am 19 Nov 19

    Luke Bennett If everyone parked streets away then they pushes out further where they can park. The common sense thing really is that if you go to a school function, you should be able to park at the location.not get there and then drive further away trying to avoid act van fines (revenue raising).

    The fact that these people driving the vans hunt down locations to make money off parents parking going to school functions (a lot of them volunteering) is disgusting. They probably pay them overtime to work Sundays for it.

    Tony Salcedo Tony Salcedo 8:11 pm 20 Nov 19

    Lol people that agree with this must have the saddest bitter lives. Its a school fate and community event for families to enjoy ,obviously parking wasnt designed for events like that so they park on a nature strip!

Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 6:06 pm 18 Nov 19

Revenue raisers cause they cant budget

    Mal Selby Mal Selby 6:19 pm 18 Nov 19

    Shayne Borger why is it called revenue raising when they are just enforcing the law and making our streets a safer place?

    Brad Adams Brad Adams 6:25 pm 18 Nov 19

    Shayne Borger you know where not to park, if you voluntarily park there anyway, wouldn’t that be voluntary contributions???

    Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 6:13 am 19 Nov 19

    Mal Selby because parking on the school grounds or next to it on a Sunday is "breaking the law". Grow up. It's dirty revenue raising, essentially legalised stealing. Those act vans loitering around places where people don't deserve to be fined. The must have low morales of they can sleep well at night.

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