Thursday, September 30, 2004

Council's one-stop stress centre

Renewing the resident's parking permit today provided a perfect illustration of the way our beloved council could change the way it operates and make our lives a lot easier.

Granted, you need three forms of ID as well as your rego papers -- desperate people will go to extraordinary lengths to get one of these permits. Because of this, in North Sydney your application needs to be signed by a JP as well as the above.

One accepted form of ID is a current lease. I thought I was OK with my lease, drivers licence and a death notice from the state debt recovery office for an unpaid parking fine. Everything else was in my business name or had my PO box address but I brought it along anyway.

Not so simple, however -- the lease which allows me to live in my house is over a year old, so apparently it's not current. The month-to-month convention means nothing, and I found my self getting stroppy. The kind person at the desk let me off this time -- I mean, how else would I have such an array of documents pertaining to my address?

Another woman in the next chair wasn't so lucky -- she had the rego papers etc etc but she hadn't actually paid the rego yet because, she said, she had a bad foot. Not current, no go. So at 3.40pm she had to hobble to Central or Bondi Junction, pay the rego and get back in time to pay for the parking permit -- or else it's continuous parking fines from tomorrow. Boy was she angry. The chances of her pulling a scam with that documentation are pretty remote -- but council treats everyone like a potential criminal. They must be wrong in a ratio of thousands to one. On top of this, the fee has gone up 30% in a year.

With all the other stresses and strains of living in Sydney, we just don't need our representative body treating us so harshly. Cut us a little leeway, please. We are adult 'shareholders' in this august body, not recalcitrant schoolkids on detention. Let's hope the next general manager can inject some humanity into this heartless machine. It's time Sydney grew up.

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