Newcastle council defends booking parked cars at Knights game

Colin Coady, from Scone, with two of his children and his parking fine after the game. Picture: Helen Coady
Colin Coady, from Scone, with two of his children and his parking fine after the game. Picture: Helen Coady

WALKING to the annual mining sponsored footy game on Saturday afternoon I could tell there’d be some unhappy fans after the whistle even if the Knights blew the Roosters off the park.

Working a grassed area near the Andor Systems electronics retailer on the corner of Griffiths Road and Turton Road were two Newcastle City Council compliance officers, steadily photographing the rows of cars they said were parked there illegally.

Most of the cars were gone on my way back but I spoke to a family from Scone and a couple from Bolwarra, each stunned to find themselves with $257 fines on their windshields.

McDonald Jones Stadium was a sea of orange hi-vis gear on Saturday, with many of the 18,000 crowd at the sixth annual Voice for Mining Family Day having come from up the valley for the game.

In the corporate area, Minerals Council of NSW chief executive Stephen Galilee was none too happy to know the council was pinging people at an event that was supposed to be about bringing the community together

Only some of the cars that were parked on the grass were being booked because, as the compliance officer acknowledged, land on the stadium side of the canal near the putt-putt centre is not council property so they can’t book cars there.

But a few metres away, any vehicle parked on grass rather than tar was apparently fair game.

Craig Ireland from Bolwarra had come with his partner, Katie Henderson, and his daughter, 10-year-old Mia Ireland, who had wanted to see her first game of football.

“It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and I won’t be back,” Mr Ireland said.

A few cars away, Bengalla coal mine contractor Colin Coady, his wife Helen and their four young children were digesting their $257 fine.

“Where’s the signs saying you can’t park there?” Mr Coady said.

Mr Coady said he’d parked in much the same spot at least twice this year without incident, so he wasn’t expecting Saturday’s “welcome to Newcastle” present.

The Newcastle Herald has been reporting council bookings on that corner for years. The council did $13,000 worth of fines one August 2013 game – at $101 a fine back then – citing safety concerns at the time.

Safety was again the concern this weekend because of the “swollen” stormwater canal, the council said. At the weekend it placed witches hats “to indicate not to park on the nature strip”.

The council said it had parking signage “elsewhere” at the stadium, and pointed out that the general road rules stipulated not to “stop your vehicle . . . on footpaths or nature strips”.

Newcastle City Council’s full response

"You must not stop your vehicle (that is, bring it to a stop and either stay with the vehicle or leave it parked) … on footpaths and nature strips," stipulate the general parking rules by Roads & Maritime Services.

As per usual, we had two parking officers patrolling around McDonald Jones Stadium Saturday night to ensure the safety of residents, pedestrians and motorists.

This week we placed witches hats to indicate not to park on the nature strip next to the swollen creek by the important Turton Road and Griffith Road intersection, where there's a significantly higher risk of flooding. 

And, as we've previously told the Herald, elsewhere around the stadium we've arranged for intersection line marking and signage to indicate where to park legally and where not to park.

Historically, a small number of motorists among the large crowds at Knights games have done the wrong thing. Many people recognise the challenges of parking in the area and use public transport, which we highly recommend.

For those who drive, we respectfully suggest arriving early and we ask everyone to park in a safe and sensible manner in line with the road rules, which our parking officers are charged with enforcing.

People who park illegally do take the risk of being ticketed.

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