Nature strip parking fines withdrawn after protest
Fines for nature strip parking have been withdrawn after more than 60 people attended a protest on February 6 in Rothwell St, Woy Woy, which saw the intervention of Member for Gosford Ms Liesl Tesch.
Ms Tesch announced that fines had been withdrawn after she contacted the Minister for Police Mr Troy Grant and NSW Police.
"I spoke to local police commanders the day that fines started arriving and asked them to act fast to fix this situation and that a three week review period wasn't acceptable.
"It needed to happen immediately," Ms Tesch said.
Ms Tesch thanked the police for their quick work in responding community concern.
"I thank the NSW Police Force for seeing the light and making the right decision to withdraw these unfair fines."
Protest organiser Mr Iain Russell, who lives in Rothwell St, received two fines of $263 each for two family cars parked on the grass verge outside his home.
"I saw a highway patrol vehicle drive along the street, stopping and photographing every car parked on the verge," he said.
"From what I understand, he targeted as many as 15 streets in the Woy Woy-Umina area - anyone parked on the nature strip received a fine."
Ms Tesch told the crowd she would be acting on their behalf to have every fine revoked.
"Let's not turn this into a 'we hate the police thing'," she said.
"We live in harmony in this community and have been parking like this for 150 years.
"From what I understand, this was not our local police, but a highway patrol officer who issued the fines.
"One person I know of received four fines.
"Lucky for me I was at work - if I had been home I probably would have been fined too."
Tesch urged all those who had received fines not to pay them but to lodge them with her office.
Roseanne Antonio lives in Walford St and received two fines.
"We had two family cars parked on the grass outside our home, but there are often four.
"Luckily two of them were not there," she said.
"I have lived here for 20 years and am a ratepayer and these fines just sickened me.
"We have parked this way for years with no problem.
"I am a single mum, just getting through week by week."
Richard Shanks lives in Crown Rd and received three fines.
"We received fines for my car, my wife's car and my son's car," he said.
"I am a pensioner and I simply can't afford this."
Residents made the point that if homeowners parked beside what would be the kerb (most do not have kerbs), there would be hardly any room for traffic to move between parked cars on opposite sides of the very narrow streets.
In a media release, Ms Tesch said hundreds of local residents had been issued hefty penalty notices for parking on nature strips outside their own homes.
Fines were issued for "Stop on path/strip in built-up area.
"Streets across Woy Woy and Umina Beach were targeted.
"Some families have been hit with thousands of dollars' worth of fines because of the number of vehicles parked outside their homes, with one family receiving notices for all three generations living in the street,'' she said.
"While local police and Central Coast Council rangers don't usually fine residents for parking on the nature strips, acknowledging that many Peninsula residents don't have any other options, it is understood that a non-local Highway Patrol officer issued the fines.
"The nature of many residential streets on the Peninsula means there is no kerb or guttering, and streets are narrow with no delineation from nature strip to road.
"This means that most people park off the street on the large nature strips, as has been the custom for decades.
"We have a lot of pensioners and young families living on the Peninsula.
"These people shouldn't have to pay hundreds of dollars in fines for parking outside their own homes.
"The timing for this couldn't be worse, with extra cars parked on the Peninsula during the school holidays, and with family budgets already stretched over the Christmas period.
"I've written to the Minister for Police and the Minister for Finance to demand an immediate review of these fines and asked that they be withdrawn."
After the fines were withdrawn, Ms Tesch congratulated the community for the win.
"This shows that people power can still win over bureaucratic decision making," Ms Tesch said.
"The Peninsula has a great sense of justice and everyone was so quick to stand together to fight this silly decision.
"They knew that coming together and putting pressure on the Minister and the NSW Police was the only way to right this wrong."
"We have great local police here on the Coast, and I'd hate for one negative incident to make people lose faith in those who keep us safe."
Media release, 5 Feb 2019
Liesl Tesch, Member for Gosford
Interviews, 6 Feb, 2019
Reporter: Terry Collins