City grants errant motorists a reprieve

By John Cousins

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Tauranga shoppers who forget to renew their warrant of fitness and registration can heave a sigh of relief.

City councillors yesterday narrowly rejected staff advice to halve the two-month grace period for expired warrants and regos.

The five to four vote meant anyone whose vehicle was unwarranted or unregistered for up to two months would continue to automatically escape paying a $200 fine, provided they could make their car legal within 14 days. Staff wanted to go back to the pre-2011 situation where the grace period was one month, arguing that two months was at odds with the Government's road safety strategy, Safer Journeys.

"By allowing two months' grace, you are allowing large numbers of potentially unsafe vehicles to be driven around our streets," council transportation operations manager Martin Parkes said.

Councillor Terry Molloy challenged him to come up with any evidence that the council would be making the roads safer by going back to the one-month timeframe.

Mr Parkes said there were a lot of reasons why roads were safer than 10 years ago, and enforcing warrants was a key factor.

Figures presented to the council showed the difference between one month and two months' grace amounted to potential lost fines of $617,000 a year, of which half went to the Government. The value of tickets waived had increased from $350,000 in the last full year of one month's grace to $867,000 for the first full year of two months' grace.

Part of the rationale for extending the grace period was that parking wardens issuing tickets for expired warrants and regos were a deterrent to shopping in the CBD.

Parking team leader Kevin Nally said Tauranga was the only council in the Bay to allow two months' grace. Unlike the other councils, it only ticketed people for one offence if a car was found to have both an expired warrant and rego.

Councillors favouring the status quo were Rick Curach, Bill Faulkner, Bill Grainger, Murray Guy and Terry Molloy. Opposed were Larry Baldock, Wayne Moultrie, Catherine Stewart and David Stewart. Mayor Stuart Crosby and Cr Tony Christiansen were absent.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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