Wardens out in force as Wellington's free parking comes to an end


Wellington motorists' free ride on parking ended with a bang on Tuesday, with more than 900 people caught out by the return of normal restrictions.

The city council turned off its metered parking system for the central city on March 24, making on-street parking free indefinitely.

It later agreed to end the scheme two weeks after New Zealand moved to coronavirus alert level 3 - which turned out to be May 12 - despite Mayor Andy Foster wanting to extend the policy for up to six months.

But it seems many drivers missed the memo, with 863 people receiving parking tickets on Tuesday and another 44 issued with infringements.

Council spokesman Richard MacLean said about 800 parking tickets were issued on an average weekday prior to the coronavirus lockdown.

"The wardens have been doing their usual rounds and concentrating on things like cars parking in loading bays and vehicles parking over time," he said.

"Quite a few motorists have got very used to the joys of empty streets and all-day free parking, but sadly the golden weather has to end."

Foster initially called for parking fees to be scrapped until the end of June to support essential workers as part of the council's pandemic response plan.

He also wanted free parking on weekends to continue for up to six months to help support businesses following the lockdown.

However, those proposals were overturned by councillors at a meeting on April 9, and it was agreed the subsequent $1 million from parking revenue would be directed towards community grants.

MacLean said the decision was publicised through news releases, newspaper and radio advertisements, social media posts, and notices on car windscreens.