Mobile career is just the ticket

Dunedin City Council parking officer Bevan Mears issues an infringement notice. Photo by Jonathan Chilton-Towle.
Dunedin City Council parking officer Bevan Mears issues an infringement notice. Photo by Jonathan Chilton-Towle.
Dressed in bright yellow and black jackets and helmets and weaving in and out of traffic, Dunedin's parking wardens are a bit like wasps and can sometimes prompt a similar response when they sting someone with a parking ticket.

Dunedin City Council parking officer Bevan Mears has been on the job for nine years.

Most days he can be found patrolling the city on his scooter and making sure no-one is parking illegally.

He marks car tyres with his own special system of chalk marking to keep track of how long they have been there and when he finds a violation he issues a ticket.

Mr Mears estimated he would give out about 40 tickets per day but said this varied between officers. If the driver was there at the time, he would often issue a warning instead.

During his career, he had ticketed friends and family members but they all understood he was just doing his job, he said.

People often objected to being ticketed and wardens were subjected to verbal abuse on an almost daily basis, he said.

''The most common ones are telling me to `get a real job' or calling me a Nazi,'' he said.

Mr Mears was not bothered by the insults. He did not take them personally as ''most people were just angry at the uniform''.

Some people took it further and wardens were also physically assaulted.

The worst that had happened to Mr Mears had been having one of his tickets shoved down his jacket.

His colleague Suzie Osborne had once been shunted by a disgruntled motorist as they were driving away.

Another warden, Marty Wilde, had been eye-gouged on the job. This had not been because of a ticket he issued but rather because he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and was attacked by an escaped mental health patient.

Assaulting a parking warden was a pretty stupid idea because nine times out of 10 they would have your vehicle details, Mr Mears said.

Despite the sometimes stressful conditions, Mr Mears said he had never had a better job. Most other wardens felt the same and this was reflected in the low turnover of staff, he said.

His boss, parking services team leader Daphne Griffen, was extremely understanding and if things got too much all a warden had to do was call in and she would tell them to come in for a break or go for a drive to calm down, he said.

Ms Griffen said there were a lot of misconceptions about parking and parking officers.

A lot of people thought they were subjected to almost constant abuse but in reality many people were appreciative of what they did and said so, she said.

Another common misconception was thinking wardens had to ask people to move before they could issue a ticket.

jonathan.chilton-towle@thestar.co.nz

 


DUNEDIN CITY COUNCIL PARKING STATISTICS

• There are eight parking wardens in Dunedin.

• Between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 Dunedin wardens issued 75,780 infringement notices. For the corresponding period in 2011 and 2012, they issued 66,568. Between 2012 and 2013 they issued 69,324 and between July 1, 2013 and June 30 this year they issued 67,937.

• For each period the total value of the tickets was close to $2 million.

• The value of the tickets issued and revenue received was significantly different. About $1.3 million in unpaid Dunedin parking fines, some dating back as far as the 1980s, are before the courts.

• The Dunedin City Council reported an average of five assaults each year on parking wardens. The wardens say verbal abuse occurs almost daily.

• You have the right to query any parking ticket. This process is handled by the Dunedin City Council customer services team, not the parking wardens. About 5% of tickets are cancelled.


 

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