Tony Christiansen. Photo: Joel Ford

Tony Christiansen. Photo: Joel Ford

Tony Christiansen's observation that parking buildings have become a haven for fine-dodgers again brings into question the fairness of council's parking rules.

The Tauranga City councillor raised the issue during a debate this week on financial projections for the council's parking operation.

Cr Christiansen said the reason parking wardens checked for warrants of fitness and registrations was safety.

He accused the council of providing a sanctuary for people who were not law-abiding and said it contradicted the Wof and registration checks made on vehicles parked on the street.

The council's parking manager maintains checking warrants and registrations was not the key function of parking wardens who focus on turnover of carparks on the street by making sure motorists paid, and they were not overstaying the time they paid for.

Clearly, Cr Christiansen's observation was a thinly veiled dig at inconsistencies in council's overall parking policy.

He conceded as much after the meeting, saying it was a parity issue and linked it to the bigger issue of the council charging for parking in the downtown when it was free at the Greerton and Mount Maunganui shopping centres.

He argues it should be a fair deal for all.

I agree.

Downtown shop owners have had to grapple with a drop in spending due to the recession and a general move to online shopping. They have also had to battle it out on an uneven playing field because of unfair parking rules.

Earlier this year, a 3600-signature petition supporting free parking failed to persuade the city council to support the idea, which instead decided to press ahead with its plan to abolish parking time limits throughout the CBD but retain charges.

It seems the council wants a vibrant town centre, but is not willing to encourage shoppers to view it as a destination.