Downtown Tauranga could become a ghost town if parking wardens are given new powers to fine motorists for bald tyres, a business owner warns.
Cafe Alfresco and Cafe on The Strand owner Malcolm George said it was hard enough for businesses to make a decent living and if the instant fine regime went ahead from April 1, as signalled, it would see more people flock to Bayfair and Fraser Cove.
"It's bollocks. It makes my blood boil. What right does Garry Poole have to make this decision without consulting councillors and ratepayers. If the fines go ahead the place will become a bloody ghost town," he said.
The Bay of Plenty Times reported on Wednesday that from April 1 parking wardens would be issuing instant $150 fines to motorists with bald tyres. The new rules were treated as an operational issue, not needing approval from councillors.
But Mayor Stuart Crosby said he would have preferred wardens took an educational approach rather than issuing instant fines.
Mr Crosby has since met with council chief executive Garry Poole and the move to issue instant fines had been put on hold until councillors met with Mr Poole to discuss it further.
Mr George said if Tauranga City Council staff had "bothered to do their homework" they would find that 99 per cent of motor vehicle crashes had nothing to do with bald tyres.
Mr George has also challenged the legality of parking wardens being able to fine people for bald tyres, when the law had recently been changed in relation to warrants of fitness.
Hot Ginger senior sales assistant Karen Ormsby also condemned the move. "I think it's disgusting. Council needs to realise that it's hard enough to attract people to shop in downtown Tauranga, and this will completely put shoppers off," she said. "This move is not about safety, it's all about money."
The plan has also sparked fiery debate on the Bay of Plenty Times Facebook page.
However, Tauranga sales assistant Stephanie Hart had a different view. "There is a fairly simple solution to all of this. Don't drive with bald tyres ..."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce head Dave Burnett said the chamber was "pro-business".
"Anything that inhibits people coming into town and spending consumer dollars in Tauranga businesses the Chamber is against ..."