It's all tickety-boo at the council

As you know, to find out about city council matters it is usually necessary to invoke the provisions of the Official Information Act but this column is fortunate in having a mole within the council who, for the price of a few beers, happily hands over documents of all kinds.

Like this transcript of a recent staff meeting.

Good morning. My word! There are a lot of us, aren't there?

It is certainly good to see the convention centre getting some use.

We may have to use the stadium next month. Well, someone has to! Just my little joke. The stadium is good enough for royalty, so let's put an end to this endless apologising for the damn thing.

Sorry Claudia can't be here but someone has to be at the desk. You know what these ratepayers are like. The old ''Back in 5 minutes'' sign on the door gets them ropable.

And His Worship apologises for his absence. He's opening something. Not the drinks cabinet! That comment was unworthy of you, Clive.

It's been a good month, really. Bazza, the cycleways strategy of yours is still doing its job of muddying the waters. Certainly takes the heat off the real problems we have.

The drip-feeding of various schemes and layouts is working well. But I don't want to see in writing that remark of yours about ''drip feeding'' actually meaning ''communicating information to the ratepayers''.

There's been movement on the hotel front. We could actually end up with more luxury hotels than we'll know what to do with. If a third proposal descends on us the planning team can hold them off I'm sure. You always have before.

The Employee of the Month Award goes to - wait for it!! It goes to Hermann, one of our ever-popular parking wardens.

Hermann it was who brought in $70 with his ticket for the driver overparked while his wife was having a baby at the nearby hospital. That was a good call, Hermann.

We now have a badge for the staffer of the month. I know it looks like an Iron Cross but it's actually a stylised Iona cross representing our Scottish heritage.

And the customer services staff can share in this award with you Hermann as it was they who threw out the usual letter of mitigation. Overparking is overparking.

Imagine what chaos would reign if every ticket issued to a woman giving birth nearby was waived. It would be the end of civic administration as we know it. Good calls all round.

However, we must always be aware of the full picture when making these decisions, especially as policing of parking regulations is not only a great revenue earner but it gives many opportunities for strutting. Hermann will show you how later.

Dying while sitting in a car at a metered space has almost always been accepted as an excuse and you should be aware that it is quite lawful to be giving birth and be in a no parking zone. I don't have the exact wording with me but the bylaw goes something like this.

''Vehicles may stop for up to two minutes to deliver or pick up goods, or to drop off or pick up passengers. The driver must remain within three metres of the vehicle while stopped in these zones.''

In other words, should a woman be stopped in a No Parking zone and give birth then no ticket is to be issued. I'm assured by our legal advisers that to have any hope of a successful prosecution in such a case the phrase ''to deliver'' would have to be omitted from the clause.

We must always be aware of becoming emotionally involved in how we enforce the law.

Babies are very cute and, while this is more than can be said of Hermann, it is not an excuse. The more unstable and emotional ratepayers will cry foul when a baby's first interaction with the world is not breastfeeding but being fined by the council.

They ask why we don't send every baby born in Dunedin a welcoming gift. This city needs all the population it can get, they say. Let's give newcomers a positive start.

Well, that's all very well, but can you imagine that child in later years? It will see the council as a soft touch. Unlikely to enforce its own laws. No.

Hermann and the customer services team were right. Give the citizens a minute and they'll take three hours. Why, such a child may well grow up to think parking a dozen camper vans at Macandrew Bay is OK.

You have done a great job, Hermann, for today's citizens and citizens of the future. Wear your badge with pride. God bless you!

We understand the executive who addressed the meeting is now on long-term stress leave.

Jim Sullivan is a Dunedin writer and broadcaster.




Add a Comment




Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter