Queenstown business: $1,000 of Cow Lane parking fines 'kills us'

by Lauren Pattemore - May 31, 2024

Multiple business owners have spoken up about two CCTV cameras pinging them for offloading deliveries down Cow Lane, and it's a growing frustration for those just trying to do their jobs.

Highlander Firewood Queenstown's Fraser MacLachlan says he's been dropping firewood down Cow Lane for local businesses for almost a decade without any worries, but in the last two months he's received two $60 tickets from the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

However his infringements pale in comparison to another local operator, who wishes to remain anonymous, hit with $1,000 in parking fines in similar circumstances.

Mr MacLachlan drops off on the Queenstown central laneway every fortnight and doesn't believe the new ticketing is fair, since he's only stopped for a few minutes and his offloading doesn't block the lane for other vehicles to drive past. 

But he acknowledges the "letter of the law", and that vehicles are not allowed to stop on broken yellow lines.

This particular broken yellow line was painted onto Cow Lane last year, and CCTV cameras have been installed there "for some time", according to a Queenstown Lakes District Council spokesperson. They say the cameras were only "activated", however, after completion of the town centre street upgrades. 

Crux understands there's also a second camera outside of KFC that can see down the entire lane. 

The spokesperson says the council's primary focus is on the accuracy of tickets issued rather than the amount.

Mr MacLachlan believes that the alternate advice offered by the council for firewood deliveries creates a health and safety risk. He says he's been directed to stack his loads around the "blind" corner of Cow Lane instead.

"Cars are absolutely whizzing around that corner," he says. 

Another business owner spoken to by Crux says they have racked up $1,000 in parking tickets from dropping off supplies to Cow Lane businesses six or seven days of the week.

"One thousand dollars, that's staff wages, that's a supplier's bills, it's a bonus for staff...it kills us."

The alternative option offered to him is "more complicated", which is to use the loading zones on Camp Street to drop off the usual four or five boxes and walk down, but he worries the inefficiency of this extra step will result in going overtime on the loading zone.

Cameron Mitchell, the owner of The Bunker, with its restaurant downstairs and cocktail bar upstairs, says in the 25 years he's been in operation at the site there has not been an issue before. 

He remembers years ago when there were parking inspectors who'd walk around the CBD streets, but they'd use "common sense".

"They'd [parking officers] come along and say, 'you're not going to be long are you?'

"It reeks of revenue-boosting - to pay for all their other stuff-ups."

Mr Mitchell says he's gotten a ticket in his personal vehicle, but it was waived.

"I got ticketed for inconsiderate parking, and I didn't even know what that is, and they couldn't tell me."

Malcolm Price, the owner of The Cow restaurant, has told local media the council's dishing out of parking tickets is affecting business, with customers no longer ordering takeaways as often as a result of the ramped up enforcement via CCTV.

The council spokesperson tells Crux there is a warranted parking officer who watches the CCTV footage and applies discretion before deciding whether or not to issue a ticket.

The job of handing out these fines is contracted to Cougar Security.

When asked, "What was the reason for installing the new cameras?", the response from the council spokesperson was as follows:

"Council's approach to CCTV in particular and parking strategy in general is to help our monitoring and enforcement team ensure compliance with national legislation under the Land Transport Act."

Also, asked, "What is the council's response to the idea that ticketing Cow Lane deliveries is revenue-collecting", the response was:

"Council has a responsibility to monitor and enforce national legislation and the QLDC Traffic and Parking bylaw. It's in everyone's interests for parking regulations to be respected in fairness to the whole community and to keep things turning over, especially in our town centres."

Main image (Supplied): It's not blocking the lane, Highlander Firewood Queenstown's Fraser MacLachlan says after a drop today, Friday, May 31.

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