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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
Martin Theron Martin Theron 11:45 pm 18 Nov 19

It’s OK if we keep paying we will get a monorail,

Dicko Thomas Dicko Thomas 10:38 pm 18 Nov 19

If you do the crime you pay the fine. Suck it up and make a better decision next time.

Warren Brown Warren Brown 10:15 pm 18 Nov 19

Well don’t park illegally, it’s simple

Debbie Armstrong Debbie Armstrong 9:47 pm 18 Nov 19

How rediculous

Kagiso Ratlhagane - Australian Progressives Kagiso Ratlhagane - Australian Progressives 9:18 pm 18 Nov 19

New low!!!

Emily Johnson Emily Johnson 8:42 pm 18 Nov 19

Emma Beauman Alyssa McInerney Jack Wright fun fact wow

Rosie Clarke Develin Rosie Clarke Develin 8:41 pm 18 Nov 19

I was fined on the CGGS fete day.

Col Strand Col Strand 8:17 pm 18 Nov 19


Samantha Diplock Samantha Diplock 8:10 pm 18 Nov 19

I think this is common practice. Heaps of people copped fines for parking at our fete last year.

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

    Samantha Diplock yeah it's dirty revenue raising.

Robert McMahon Robert McMahon 8:09 pm 18 Nov 19

Fair enough. The underlying safety or environmental reason for parking rules doesn’t evaporate because it’s a fare or fete.

Geoff Withers Geoff Withers 7:59 pm 18 Nov 19

It is predatory, and our freedoms are being taken from us everyday

    BA Allen BA Allen 8:06 pm 18 Nov 19

    Geoff Withers sling shot will fix that

    Imants Ezergailis Imants Ezergailis 9:49 pm 18 Nov 19

    Geoff Withers : Is The freedom to park where you want and when you want and stuff the consequences on your list of freedoms???

    Geoff Withers Geoff Withers 9:54 pm 18 Nov 19

    Imants Ezergailis yep

    Imants Ezergailis Imants Ezergailis 11:20 pm 18 Nov 19

    Geoff Withers : So you are planning to stand for parliament so you can defend your list of ‘freedoms’??

    Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 6:12 am 19 Nov 19

    Imants Ezergailis 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.

    Trish Lingard-Wyss Trish Lingard-Wyss 6:59 am 19 Nov 19

    Geoff Withers you want the freedom to drive then it comes with constraints. Grow up and deal with it.

    Geoff Withers Geoff Withers 7:16 am 19 Nov 19

    For a start it's a community event, a school fete driving has nothing to to do

    with it. They took the time to have somebody( why anybody would want a job that preys on the unsuspecting public) work on a sunday, on overtime, on taxpayers money to target a fund raising event for a school. It's a low act.

    BA Allen BA Allen 11:09 am 19 Nov 19

    Trish Lingard-Wyss maybe you should grow up n smell the free air

    Imants Ezergailis Imants Ezergailis 12:37 pm 19 Nov 19

    Andrew O'Brien : I learned to read as I was growing up, at least to the extent that I can read road signs, including parking signs. Perhaps literacy is the real issue here?? 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️

Robert Hawes Robert Hawes 7:45 pm 18 Nov 19

The people who organise fates should insure that there are enough car parking spots available.

    Andrew O'Brien Andrew O'Brien 6:14 am 19 Nov 19

    Robert Hawes it doesn't work like that in real life, one day you will work that out.

    Robert Hawes Robert Hawes 7:05 am 19 Nov 19

    Andrew O'Brien That does not say much.

    Roderick Saunders Roderick Saunders 8:41 pm 19 Nov 19

    Robert Hawes I didn't realise P&Cs have control over the ACT Government's traffic management policies 🤔

    Robert Hawes Robert Hawes 10:08 pm 19 Nov 19

    Roderick Saunders I never said they did. Schools could hold their fates in areas other than car parks. Then have areas on the school grounds where people can park their cars. This means not many people will need to park on the road.

    Better still anyone living in the same suburb as the fate should walk to the fate.

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 7:42 pm 18 Nov 19

Used at The Canberra Hospital Precinct as well.....regularly.

Lee Cannon Lee Cannon 7:42 pm 18 Nov 19

Classic ACT gov revenue raising,

And what did they give Kambah in the last election a rate rise and cycle a cycle lane

Kirrin Birrin Kirrin Birrin 7:38 pm 18 Nov 19

They hit the Weetangerra primary fete on Sunday.

Darron Marks Darron Marks 7:31 pm 18 Nov 19

I really hate reading these stories targeting school fete's that is a low act.

Kristen Macgregor Kristen Macgregor 7:20 pm 18 Nov 19

Sharon Wright something to think about..

Jordan Bromhead Jordan Bromhead 7:16 pm 18 Nov 19

Briony Jon Dose I reckon this is what happened...

Sophie Stines Sophie Stines 7:06 pm 18 Nov 19

Luke Aimee Mark FYI for the weekend!

Jason Preston Jason Preston 7:03 pm 18 Nov 19

Your soviet government at work

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