Redland City Council has voted against doubling fines for minor traffic offences after several councillors raised concerns about financial impacts on residents.
Officers had recommended increasing fines from $154.80 to $309.60, but councillors rejected the proposal 8-2 after more than 40 minutes of debate.
Council received just six properly made submissions during the consultation period held over June and July, the majority of which were against the increase.
Officers wrote in a report tabled at the meeting that increasing fines was an “effective way to reduce safety-related parking and stopping offences”.
“These violations can pose serious risks to the safety of pedestrians, particularly children, who are often less visible and less predictable than adult pedestrians,” the officers wrote.
“By increasing penalties for safety-related parking and stopping offences, we can promote safer and more accessible roads for all, particularly vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and children.”
Cr Peter Mitchell, who was one of only two councillors to vote in favour of the increase, said the change had been proposed in the interest of educating motorists and improving public safety. “$309 is a bargain to save a life,” he said.
“The point of the fine is to assist with education and that pain (of getting a fine) is sometimes an important part of education.”
Cr Mark Edwards said the current fines were already enough of a deterrent and an increase would significantly impact residents struggling financially.
“Looking at the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, most people are on a fixed income. They are flat out just living week-to-week,” he said.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people in tears, sometimes saying ‘how am I going to get food next week and pay this fine?’.
“It’s all relative. If you increase a fine in an inner-city suburb like Sydney or something, that cost is not really impacting on (them) because they are affluent.
“It’s not just the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, we’ve got some poverty all around this city.
“I think the level of fine at the moment is sufficient.”
Cr Paul Bishop asked whether a “blitz” could be carried out in some areas as an alternative to an immediate fine increase, with a possible review should the crackdown fail to address the issues.
“You (officers) have raised this obviously because it’s a concern,” he said.
“If this does not go ahead today, is there other educational pathways that we can pursue?”
Community and Customer Services general manager Louise Rusan said council’s local laws were in place to maintain standards that were “fair” and “reasonable for all”.
“If you are looking for other mechanisms of education, of compliance, that does cost,” she said.
Only Cr Mitchell and Tracey Huges voted in favour of an increase.
Mayor Karen Williams was absent from the meeting.