By Brushell Blackman
As the recently introduced pay-to-park system continues to divide opinions across
the country, the city’s by-laws have given sweeping powers to its parking wardens. According to the by-laws, wardens will be without reproach even if a vehicle is damaged during removal by Smart City Solutions (SCS).
Kaieteur News has seen a copy of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) by-laws that govern the use of the parking meter system, and according to section 23 paragraphs 3 and 4 “no city constable or parking warden or other persons employed by the city shall be liable to damages or any civil action or criminal remedy in respect of any action, proceeding or demand whatsoever, whether for recovery of any alleged damage to such vehicle or otherwise in respect of the removal thereof”.
The M&CC has ‘ring fenced’ itself from prosecution as well, as another section of the by-laws state “The city shall not be liable to damages or any other civil or criminal remedy in respect of any action, proceeding or demand whatsoever whether for recovery of any alleged damage to such vehicle or otherwise in respect of removal thereof”.
The two aforementioned paragraphs will suggest that the city council will not be responsible for any damages when towing away clamped vehicles.
According to the Movement against Parking Meters, this is a “dangerous” state of affairs, and represents one of the many flaws that are evident in the document. One representative of the movement posited that “if someone at City Hall or a parking warden has an issue with a car owner and decides to maliciously damage that vehicle, he will not be held accountable”.
And the peculiarities of the by-laws do not stop there, a standard parking space is three metres long and wide, and vehicles that are larger will need to pay for how many spaces that vehicle occupies. There is no provision for any other sizes of vehicles.
Further, the document states that motorcycles are prohibited from parking in any zone other than a motorcycle parking zone. But a quick canvas of the city tells a different story; there isn’t a designated area anywhere in the city for motorcycles to park. An official from the movement against the parking meters believes that “this document was hastily put together in the interest of bleeding the pockets of poor people without properly studying it”.
The M&CC’s by-laws seem to contradict the way parking wardens conduct enforcement. The document, in section 42 states that, if the traffic warden believes that the laws were contravened, he/she can issue a fix penalty notice (ticket) of no less than $8,000 or no more than $15,000; and gives the offender up to fourteen days to make that payment.
Whether it’s by coincidence, at the moment failure to purchase a parking ticket gets a car booted and the fee to remove the clamp is $8,000; should the vehicle be towed away an additional $7,000 is incurred – a total of $15,000.
The Movement against Parking Meters believes the M&CC clamping vehicles when they are given the option to issue penalty notices, is a clear indication that they are looking to make as much money as they can in a very draconian way.
The by-laws make provision for the issuance of parking permits by the Town Clerk. Section 33 states “the Town Clerk may approve an application for a parking permit provided that the application is consistent with the requirements of any policy applicable to parking that has been adopted by the city”.
The by-laws do not state who is eligible and what are the requirements, therefore it is left to the discretion of the Town Clerk to issue to whomever he believes is deserving.
Furthermore, the Town Clerk can revoke a park permit without giving any notice to the permit holder; the by-laws fail to state what warrants revocation.
The same document states that if a vehicle owner fails to uplift an impounded vehicle, the M&CC will put the vehicle up for sale in an auction. They have 90 days from the date it was impounded and the M&CC will sell the vehicle to recover cost. However, it did say that 14 days before that auction, an attempt will be made to contact the owner via the press. Should that owner make contact before the auction, the M&CC ‘may not’ sell that vehicle.
According to the Movement against the Parking Meters, if the city council is in such dire need for money and will not scrap the initiative, then it should adjust the prices, because it can be done. The by-laws state in section 3 “the city may implement, enter or amend any written agreement with operators of the metered parking systems”.
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