Q&A: Meet a parking warden

Jane Libeau. PHOTO: Christine O'Connor
Jane Libeau. PHOTO: Christine O'Connor
Dunedin City Council parking officers are usually a private bunch - reluctant to see their names in print. But not Jane Libeau. Chris Morris asks about her job.

Name: Jane Libeau
Age: 52
Occupation: DCC parking officer (almost seven years). 

Q: How did you become a parking officer? ''I saw an advertisement in the paper ... it just felt like a really good job, first off, and I wanted to make a difference.''

Q: How do you make a difference? ''We're out there to free up the parking for people who want to park out there, and education too, in relation to parking correctly and other issues, like broken yellow lines, bus stops and taxi stands, and to just keep people informed about what they're allowed to and not allowed to do, really.''

Q: What's a typical day? ''It's an eight-hour day. I start at 8am and finish at 5pm. The average kind of day is getting geared up in all our protective gear, getting on our motorbike, and starting the day by checking what's happening out there - the bus stops, the taxi stands, and at 9am we start chalking up our pay-and-display areas to monitor the people parking there, how long they're parking there, and whether or not they're paying.''

Q: How many tickets do you issue in a typical day? ''Ticket numbers vary depending on the size of the area ... the average would be anything from 30 to 50 tickets [a day].''

Q: What's the most common offence? ''It would be expired pay-and-displays.''

Q: How do you find dealing with the public? ''Mostly very, very positive. People I come across are very appreciative of the job we do. Quite often I'm quite surprised - a person does come up to me, and I'm expecting more of a barrelling from them, and I get ... appreciation.''

Q: How often have you been abused while working? ''Not very often - I'm quite lucky in that respect.''

Q: How often would the other DCC parking officers encounter abuse? ''It doesn't happen very often ... maybe once a day for someone [within the team].''

Q: How do you react to abuse? ''I don't take it personally. I don't know what's going on with that person's life, and I'll deal with the situation as it happens.''

Q: What's the worst thing that's happened to you on the job? ''Abuse that comes from nowhere - or it seems to come from nowhere ... they're upset by the fact they've got a ticket, and that puts you back a wee bit, because it is only a ticket.''

Q: Have you ever been assaulted? ''Yes, I have. The most recent was last year. I've probably had three or four - nothing serious. It's more ... people prodding. The more serious incidents go to police.''

Q: How do you deal with that? ''I talk about it. It's important to get these things out. I don't think it's healthy to hold it in.''

Q: Any advice for motorists? ''We're doing a job out there. We're doing the best we can, and we're doing a service to Dunedin city ... we're there to help.''