Hamish Heard From: Sunday Herald Sun January 30, 2011
THE laser-guided parking traps will show no mercy.
Even motorists who roll the dice and stay just a few extra minutes, hoping to beat the Grey Ghosts, won't stand a chance.
Their sensors alert parking officers the second a vehicle's parking meter expires or it overstays the allowed time, eliminating the need for them to chalk tyres or read meters.
Figures leaked to the Sunday Herald Sun indicate the system could result in Melbourne motorists being slugged with additional parking fines totalling up to $20 million a year.
It also has grave implications for the city's Grey Ghosts, with council sources revealing job losses were likely if adopted.
A confidential briefing document given to Melbourne City councillors on Friday indicates the council would detect 60 per cent more parking offences with the sensors installed.
"Information from the trial shows that at present we're only detecting about 10 per cent of all parking infringements," a councillor speaking on condition of anonymity said.
In the financial year ending June last year, the council issued 460,268 fines, reaping almost $34 million in revenue.
Based on those figures, the sensors would result in an extra 276,000 fines being issued every year. The fines range from $60 to $119.
"It is going to be controversial on a number of fronts," the councillor said.
"There will be a lot more fines issued and it will have industrial relations implications," the councillor said.
Councillors will this week vote on whether to advertise tenders for parking sensor technology.
However, the Sunday Herald Sun has been told some councillors will seek to defer the item.
"This is a big deal and it seems outrageous we have to make a decision with so little time," the councillor said.
Melbourne company Database Consultants Australia was last year contracted to install sensors at a Templestowe shopping centre for Manningham Council.
Fine revenue leapt 24 per cent in the first six weeks after the system - called PinForce Sentinal - was installed. The company did not return calls, but its website claims the technology "makes chalking practises a historic last-century relic".
The website states the system beams information to hand-held units already used by parking officers, meaning officers only have to enter vehicle registration details.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle refused to discuss this week's confidential meeting, but confirmed parking sensors were on the council's agenda.
"As with all council decisions, the normal processes such as councillor briefings and consultation with stakeholders will occur," Cr Doyle said.
"In response to your inquiry about in-ground sensors, a trial has been underway for two months in the city."
The proposal drew a negative response from Melbourne Business Council secretary Don Parsons, who predicted widespread anger among CBD traders.
"It's just another negative device that would discourage people from coming into the city," Mr Parsons said.