Window washers could be slapped with a $150 instant fine by police if a law change backed by the Whangarei District Council is passed through Parliament.
But those on the window-washing frontline say fines won't be a deterrent and may even push those involved in the washing trade into criminal activities instead. One window washer said he earned $60 in less than an hour yesterday.
The WDC has made a submission supporting the Land Transport Vehicle User Safety Amendment Bill which will put in place a national enforcement regime against window washing.
The proposed new rule states a road user must not use a road to wash or offer to wash a vehicle, or any part, in a manner that may be unsafe, may intimidate or cause a nuisance to any person, or may cause an obstruction to vehicles.
The rule change would allow police to issue instant $150 fines for window washing activities and WDC staff considered a New Zealand-wide approach was appropriate and the power to issue fines would provide a much-needed simple, low-cost tool.
At present the four major intersections frequented by the window washers around Whangarei are under the control of the New Zealand Transport Agency and outside the jurisdiction of the council bylaws.
Council chief executive officer Rob Furlong said changes to the law to deter window washers needed to be practical and straightforward.
"Any solution needs to apply equally to both national and district roads, and needs to work in practice, not just in theory."
He said under current rules councils could prosecute window washers but it was expensive. He estimated the lowest cost to the ratepayer for a prosecution would be between $5000 and $10,000.
"Do that four or five times a year and you are looking at the cost of a new playground," Mr Furlong said.
"Our council supports this amendment because we need the police to be given the powers they need - whether it is talking with someone and moving them on, ticketing them, or other action because of their behaviour."
While the colder weather has seen a steep decline in the number of window washers at Whangarei intersections, two hardy workers needing some cash, Taylor and Levis, were plying their trade on the State Highway 1 intersection with Rewarewa Rd about 10am yesterday.
Taylor, who has worked at the intersection for the past two years, said the fines would mean nothing to those at the intersections.
"The police will come they will chase them away but they'll be back as soon as the police are gone."
He said window washing gave people who might be swayed to more criminal activities something legal to do. By introducing fines it could push them towards illegal activities.
And it seems the money they could make by window washing was more of a lure than a $150 was a deterrent. In less than an hour yesterday Taylor had a fist full on notes and coins, totalling about $60.
He said he had used the very public road to get other jobs too. He had swapped numbers with people at the lights and had ended up getting jobs fencing, milking and farming.
During the peak of summer police were inundated with complaints by motorists about the window washers' behaviour around Whangarei.
Northland's road policing boss, Inspector Wayne Ewers, said there was a need for change because people were just not happy with the current situation. He said if the legislation was changed then police would investigate complaints like any other crime and take the appropriate action.