Council parking inspectors have been slammed for slapping “official warning” tickets on the windscreens of cars belonging to hospital staff in Melbourne’s inner-north.
- The City of Yarra has offered a temporary reprieve from parking fines around St Vincent’s Hospital for hospital staff
- But Mayor Misha Coleman said workers were never allowed to park in clearways or no stopping zones
- Meanwhile, the City of Melbourne will revoke its offer of free parking to all drivers, saying the policy had “unintended consequences” for restaurants
The ABC has seen dozens of cars parked in Gertrude Street in Fitzroy clearly displaying St Vincent’s Hospital employee signs next to council infringement notices.
The “official warning” notices do not impose a financial penalty.
One employee left a note on their dashboard pleading “where else are we supposed to park then?”
The City of Yarra offered hospital staff a temporary reprieve from parking fines around the facility because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cars were parked in a green zone on the southern side of Gertrude Street, which becomes a no stopping area between 7:00am and 9:00am.
Local resident Cameron Watt said he was shocked to see that any infringements had been issued at all.
“I just think it’s absolutely disgusting,” he said.
“There’s enough anxiety in the world right now and there’s clearly marked signs on these vehicles saying they work for St Vincent’s Hospital.”
Two City of Yarra councillors also expressed surprise and disappointment about the notices issued to hospital staff.
Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap
Mayor defends warnings for ‘dangerous’ parking locations
But the parking inspectors have the backing of the Mayor Misha Coleman.
“The areas that are clearways or areas that are no stopping that was never included,” she said.
“In the clearways, it’s really dangerous to have cars parked there all day.”
She said the drivers parked there would normally have been given a $600 fine and had their car towed away.
This parking area is off limits because it switches to a clearway between 7:00am and 9:00am.(ABC News: James Hancock)
Cr Coleman said there were other on-street areas where hospital staff could park without the risk of an infringement.
“Frontline workers should not have to park in clearways, they should not have to park in dangerous stopping zones. We don’t want that,” she said.
“We’ve told the hospitals where staff can park without getting warning notices and we call on the hospitals to open up their own carparks for their staff.”
The Yarra local council has also relaxed the enforcement of parking rules for all motorists in recent weeks and is losing millions of dollars a month in parking fines and fees.
From Monday however, the reprieve will come to an end and council parking inspectors will start issuing parking fines again.
However hospital workers will continue to be exempt.
Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak
Parking enforcement to resume in City of Melbourne
Meanwhile, the City of Melbourne has also overturned its decision to give drivers free parking because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But it has promised hospital, police and corrections staff will be spared infringements for a while longer yet.
Inspectors have only been issuing tickets for red zones, such as no standing, loading and permit zones, after a dramatic drop in the number of vehicles going into the city.
From Monday next week, tickets will again be handed out for zones with green signs.
Up to 8,000 temporary parking permits will be given to hospital staff, police officers and prison workers.(ABC News: James Hancock)
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said up to 8,000 temporary permits would be issued to staff at eight hospitals, police officers and workers at the Melbourne Assessment Prison.
She said the offer of free parking had had unintended consequences for restaurants and cafes doing takeaways.
“Having people parked all day in front of their premises has been frustrating for them when they’re trying to have customers coming in and coming out,” she said.
The temporary permits will be reviewed monthly or until coronavirus restrictions are scrapped.
What you need to know about coronavirus:
How coronavirus turned property on its head