Nelson resident Ezra Soffer says he’s not a fan of the council moving to ‘Pay by Plate’ parking technology. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

No more cheeky parkers as ticketless system comes to Nelson city centre

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BY KATE RUSSELL AND SARA HOLLYMAN

Nelson City Council will introduce a new parking system next year which will register number plates instead of issuing tickets, and while some residents are on board, others are not convinced.

The move will mean no more paper tickets, but it will also mean drivers will no longer be able to move to a different carpark within the inner city to claim more than one free hour of parking.

Councillors decided in a full council meeting on Thursday to opt for modernising parking meters with ‘Pay by Plate’ technology, following approving a budget of $867,000 back in June.

The system requires drivers to enter their vehicle registration plate number at the parking meter and pay for the parking time they need, using either a credit/debit card or coins.

The system will know the driver has paid for a set amount of time, even if they move carparks within the city zone – but users can extend their paid parking period via a parking app.

Nelson Weekly spoke to some residents who were positive about the change, saying it’s time to “embrace technology”, but others weren’t so keen.

Nelsonian Ezra Soffer calls the move “another nail in the coffin” for Nelson’s city centre.

“How many people are an app whiz these days? It’s not great for the oldies. It will be good to be able to extend the time remotely from the app but won’t be appropriate for everyone.”

In relation to people not being able to move their car to get another hour’s parking, he says council should be providing people with an affordable alternative and backs the idea of a four-story carpark building.

“It’s okay to say we’ll take away this, but you need to provide an alternative. If the alternative is viable and accessible, they might do it.

“People will jump in and say, ‘I’ll leave the car at home today’ or go to Richmond’.”

But council says the city currently has 106 multi bay meters and 116 single head meters that are reaching the end of their useful life, with mayor Rachel Reese calling the system “outdated” and “frustrating”.

Margaret Parfitt, manager transport and solid waste, says they have recorded a 250 per cent increase in down time due to faults over the last six years, together with an increase in maintenance and operational costs of 66 per cent since 2013/14.

Councillor Gaile Noonan said she could “see some confused people” with the change, but Margaret says there would be a communications strategy in place.

The updated technology will require a wording change in the Parking Bylaw and feedback on that will be sought next month. Council will be tendering the installation project at the same time and it’s anticipated that installation will begin by June 2020.