Wardens to ticket cars minus WOF

By Mike Barrington

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Voting was divided when the Whangarei District Council district living committee voted to authorise parking wardens to issue tickets to vehicles lacking up-to-date warrant of fitness or registration stickers.

The new regulation, expected to come into force on July 1, will carry a $200 fee for warrant infringements, payable to the council and brings the council in line with the rest of the country.

Owners of vehicles with a warrant of fitness lapsed for less than a month would have 14 days to fix faults before being fined.

The move, introduced by a notice of motion from Cr John Williamson, was criticised as "revenue-gathering" during debate before it passed 9-6.

Cr Williamson opened discussion by describing how two people had been killed when a car with no warrant and two bald tyres had struck their vehicle while travelling at 120km/h at Hukerenui three months ago.

Whangarei had a serious issue with unsafe illegal vehicles, he said.

He provided statistics showing that 9.5 per cent of vehicles which the Northland AA had surveyed in city carparks were either unregistered or unwarranted.

Other figures showed 10 per cent of the 159 fatal crashes in Northland between 2007-11 involved unwarranted vehicles.

Deputy Mayor Phil Halse questioned whether warrant and rego enforcement was a core activity for the council, rather than police, and wanted to know how the fees would be collected.

"I think more homework is needed before we pass this," he said.

Cr Crichton Christie said most road accidents were caused by driver error and he disputed Cr Williamson's statistics, saying it was an issue for police to handle.

"In my view, this is revenue-gathering," he said.

Cr Kahu Sutherland said he had been at the Hukerenui fatal crash, which had been caused by speed, not bald tyres.

"I don't like the fact that we want to create criminals," he said, adding that he did not think the proposed action would help road safety.

Mayor Morris Cutforth said the council had a self-righteous attitude and may be being hard on people who could not afford warrants and registration.

"But I might change my mind if one of these vehicles ran over my grandchild. It's a vexed issue," he said.

Cr Williamson asked the mayor if it was okay to break road laws and told Cr Sutherland that two innocent people had died because a person decided to drive at 120km/h with two bald tyres.

Mr Cutforth made his mind up in a vote on the issue, raising his hand with the eight councillors who approved it.

The expanded power for parking wardens was opposed by Crs Halse, Christie, Sutherland, Jeroen Jongejans and Brian McLachlan.

- Northern Advocate

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