A Whangārei businessman is so sick of the grief and abuse he’s been getting from people parking in his private car park, he’s contracted a company to issue breach notices - with a fee of $95 - for those who use the space and risk disrupting workers from five businesses that use it.
Businessman Roy Bhula, owns the building at 2, 12 Vine St that includes five street-front businesses - Braaihut, Gopals, Little Bamboo, Viva Beauty Gallery and a soon-to-open artisan European bakery All You Knead. Bhula also owns the carpark behind the building, which is accessed from Bank St.
He has become sick of people using the carpark without authorisation and disrupting the businesses that had a right to use it and pay a monthly fee to do so.
People had parked there blocking in cars of those businesses and some had even blocked a disability van that was used there. The unauthorised parking was having an impact on the businesses - some of which stay open ‘till late at night - and had led to instances where delivery vehicles could not get in to drop off stock to the businesses and workers from the businesses had to park elsewhere.
“I had enough. You would ask people to move politely and they would give you abuse and aggro. We don’t need that. We’re trying to run out business and these people think they can just park there and stuff the impacts on the businesses.
‘’It’s frustrating when you come out to leave and somebody has blocked your car in so you can’t go. That really impacts on people.’’
Bhula said he originally had tow away signs up, but it was difficult getting the vehicles towed so about a year ago, after being approached by Papamoa company Parking Services Ltd, he entered into a contract with the company to control the carpark and issue breach notices to anybody not authorised to park there.
He said photographs have to be taken of the offending vehicle from the CCTV covering the park, and this was sent to Parking Services, which then issued the breach notice with a $95 payment that is required within 21 days of the issuing of the notice. If it is not paid the company says an additional $75 will be applied for each week it is unpaid. If the payments are still not paid the company has the right to take a case to the district court for recovery.
Bhula said he would rather not have to issue the notices, but the situation got so bad he had to do something to protect the health and safety of the businesses - and prevent the abuse they were getting when they asked a parker to leave.
He said the rules for the carpark apply 24/7 as two of the takeaways opened ‘till late and staff were still there, and needing the carpark, up to midnight. The artisan bakery would have staff arriving in the middle of the night and needed to ensure there were parking spaces for them.
‘’At 10pm, 11pm there are still people here working, some of them are getting deliveries coming late into the evening and it’s not fair that they are unable to use their parking spaces because somebody who is not allowed to be there is taking it up,’’ Bhula, who has owned the building for about 20 years, said.
He said he does make some concessions, like for the woman whose car broke down outside the carpark and pushed it in there waiting for it to be picked up.
‘’That’s a genuine reason so I had no issues with that.’’
When Whangārei woman Alex, who did not want her full name used, received a notice in the post, saying she had to pay $95 for parking in the carpark at 10.31pm on a Monday night she thought it was a scam.
After all, she figured, Whangārei District Council did not issue tickets after business hours, and besides, she said, there was no way she’d be in town at that time of night as she has to look after her ailing father and would have been ‘’tucked up in bed’' at that time. But it’s not a scam and she is now going to appeal the notice.
Parking Services owner Doug Thomas said the company had to have a photo of the offending vehicle parked there before NZTA would give it access to the details of the owner to issue the notice.
Thomas said the company operated the free carpark control in several centres, but this was its only Whangārei client so far.
He started the service about three years after experiencing major issues with unlawful parking in his own company carpark and it worked in reducing unlawful parking, once word spread.
“And there are plenty of our signs on all our controlled car parks that warn people that they are not allowed to park there. There are so many people who think it’s okay to park in other’s private spaces,’’ he said.
‘’But that can cause major issues for the people who own those parks and a big part of getting them to stop is our service.’’
Thomas said issuing the notices was far more effective than towing the vehicles away.