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Fine(d) Us If You Can, Says Council

Tags: Tony Piccolo MP / Gawler / Light Electorate / Local Infrastructure / Building Communities

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  • By Tony Piccolo
  • Sep 06, 2018

The Gawler Council should automatically refund all parking fines incorrectly issued at the Phoenix Plaza Shopping and Gawler Central Shopping Centres as a sign of good faith with its community, according to local Member of Parliament Mr Tony Piccolo.

In a secret meeting last week, Gawler Council decided to waive unpaid fines and only reimburse paid fines where residents apply and provide ‘proof’ of receiving an expiation notice.

The error was exposed by an investigation undertaken by Mr Piccolo acting on complaints lodged by a number of local residents who were pinned for quite unreasonable offences.

Mr Piccolo said while he welcomed Council’s partial backdown, the process and final decision just demonstrates the contempt the council displays to its ratepayers and residents.

“Firstly it unanimously decides to discuss the matter behind closed doors, and then it requests residents to request a refund and prove they have received and paid,” he said.

“While secrecy is bad enough, the council decides to adding insult to injury by asking people to apply for a refund and provide proof.”

“Council has all this information, and could quite easily refund people direct.

“Many people say this council lacks a service culture, and this decision, unfortunately reflects those views.”

Under the Private Parking Areas Act, shopping centres can grant the local council, through a legal agreement, the power to enforce parking rules on private property.

Mr Piccolo said this was a reasonable and normal practice, which ensures safety in private carpark areas, and car parks are used in a fair and reasonable manner.

In their Statement to the media, Council asserts that:

“….contrary to statements made by Tony Piccolo MP, Council does not charge a fee for this service. Revenue is generated from the expiations issued,” (said Mayor Redman.)”

Mr Piccolo said “ It is unfortunate that either the Mayor appears to have been poorly briefed, or the Council are not enforcing their own agreement.”

The Phoenix Plaza agreement states:

“ 5.7 The Owner agrees to pay the Council the amounts set out in Schedule 2 to this Agreement in respect of the Council's inspection of the Parking Area.”

And Schedule 2 states under “Payment Amounts”:

“Subject to any provision of this Agreement, the Owner will pay to the Council the amount of $60.00 per hour, adjusted pro−rata for part of any hour, in respect of time spent by the Council's authorised officers inspecting the Parking Area, with such amounts being invoiced by the Council to the Owner on a monthly basis.”

Mr Piccolo disputes the Council’s claim that it has acted in “a proactive and flexible” manner.

“If Council were acting in a proactive and flexible manner, they would not be imposing additional bureaucratic processes and red tape on residents. They would, from their own records, just issue a refund,” Mr Piccolo said.

“If you pay your fine late, they impose penalties. If they have the systems to do that, they should have the systems to reimburse people.”

Mr Piccolo said, “It is unfortunate that even when Council are seeking to do the right thing and correct an error, they stuff it up!”

“This Council seems very skilled at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

“We can all make mistakes, and often the response to the error is just as important as the original error.”

 

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