BY RYAN QUINN
Leichhardt is ranked the fifth highest of 36 Sydney councils to issue parking fines in the past year, according to new data.
Between 2014-15, Leichhardt Councils’ rate of issuing parking fines per 1,000 residents was almost double the average of most Sydney councils.
These statistics came from data compliation of Independent Leichhardt Councillor John Stamolis, who said that parking fines were a “key issue” raised by local businesses.
Clr Stamolis said that Leichhardt businesses had flourished prior to the introduction of parking meters in 2001, something he opposed at the time because the shopping environment was too “fragile”.
“There’s a balance that if you carefully price them, if you don’t hit people too hard with parking fines, then maybe it might work, but you need to be very careful in some areas,” he said.
President of the Balmain Rozelle Chamber of Commerce Stephen Bastian agreed that the first complaint of every business is parking fines.
Mr Stamolis compiled the data to present at the Leichhardt Council meeting next week to help identify the impact that fines have on local business.
The data also showed that Leichhardt Council issued almost 18 fines per business in 2014-15.
Clr Stamolis said that Leichhardt’s local shops do not match the drawing power of the top 4 councils of the data.
“What worries me is that we’re placed up there with North Sydney, with Woollahra and Waverly, where Bondi Beach and the entertainment venues and sport field venues are. We shouldn’t be placed there amongst those councils,” Clr Stamolis said.
Mr Bastian said that the parking rangers in Leichhardt are “like the Gestapo”.
“As soon as someone goes a minute over, they just hit them left, right and centre, and they’re terrors. They’re just up and down that main street all the time,” he said.
Caroline, who choose not to provide her last name, manager of a café on Darling Street, said the fines were unnecessary.
“They’re the most active parking rangers I’ve ever seen and I’ve lived in Sydney for about 12-15 years. They’ll come at any time of the day,” she said.