Courtenay Cameras to Focus on Problem Parking

14 September 2009

Wellington City Council is to trial its new city-safety CCTV cameras in Courtenay Place to see if such cameras can be used for traffic enforcement.

The trial, over several days from next week until mid-October, will see infringement notices issued to motorists caught by the high-resolution cameras parking illegally or creating a safety hazard on the road.

The four new CCTV cameras have been installed in Courtenay Place to address safety concerns in the area, particularly at night. However the traffic-enforcement trial is in response to increasing complaints from the public and police about vehicles blocking access to buses and emergency vehicles.

Cr Andy Foster, the Council's Transport Portfolio Leader, says the aim of the trial is to change behaviour, with the Council particularly concerned about the behaviour of taxi drivers in Courtenay Place on busy evenings.

"Anyone who has waited for a bus in Courtenay Place on Friday or Saturday nights will know about the problems caused by cab drivers who park on the bus stops and force buses to 'double-park' to pick up passengers. It's dangerous, it causes aggravation and it blocks the traffic.

"In the past couple of years we've attempted to tackle these problems through traditional warden patrols issuing tickets but these haven't been effective in changing driver behaviour.

"There's an increasing community expectation that more effective enforcement is needed - and using new technology, which we have taken legal advice on, is seen as a good way to do this."

The camera footage will only be used as evidence to prosecute for offences that result in traffic safety problems, such as double-parking, parking across entranceways, parking across pedestrian crossings and on bus stops. Not for breaching time restrictions or other such minor parking offences.

Signs will be placed on poles in the Courtenay Place area to warn drivers that if they commit offences, camera footage may be used to prosecute them. The camera footage will be processed at the Council's new Traffic Management Centre by warranted enforcement officers.

Cr Foster says the new cameras are among seven installed around the central business district at a cost of $140,000 and provide "very high-quality" resolution that can easily identify vehicle registration numbers.

The results of the trial will be reviewed and if the approach proves effective in improving traffic safety then dedicated traffic-enforcement cameras may be installed and the initiative extended to 'trouble spots' in other parts of the city.