Byron Bay tops parking fines with $1.38m pay day

PARKING inspectors have been hard at work targeting illegal parking across the Northern Rivers, racking up $1.74 million in parking fines on their respective councils' roads.

Byron Shire Council secured the biggest financial windfall from dodgy parkers last financial year, issuing 9588 fines at a cost to drivers of $1.38 million in fines.

It was the region's only council area to have a jump in parking fines in 2015-16, up slightly from $1.37 million the previous year.

Byron was also the third biggest issuer of parking fines in regional NSW, with only Newcastle ($2.8 million) and Wollongong ($2.2 million) issuing more infringement notices.

Ballina Shire Council dished out $197,984 in fines, Lismore City Council penalised drivers $118,968 and Richmond Valley Council took in $40,851.

Kyogle was by far the region's most parking-friendly local government area with just three infringements totalling $1019.

New South Wales councils as a whole issued 1.28 million fines equalling more than $185 million in revenue - up about $5 million on 2014-15.

The figures come in a climate where NSW's parking tickets are as much as four times as expensive as those in Victoria.

Roads and Maritime Services figures show the most common offence - parking continuously longer than permitted - carries a $106 fine in NSW, compared to $30 in Victoria and $88 in Queensland.

A $531 fine awaits any unauthorised person parking in a disabled zone in NSW, compared to $152 in Victoria.

Stopping on or near a school or level crossing will earn drivers in NSW a $319 bill compared to $148 in Victoria.

The National Roads and Motorists' Association has called for new laws forcing local governments to set aside all parking fine revenue for local road upgrades, but so far the plea has been ignored.

"It is acknowledged that many local government authorities across NSW are cash strapped with revenue streams continuing to dry up," the NRMA report states.

"As a result, local councils are not always in a financial position to adequately maintain existing road infrastructure to a satisfactory standard, particularly where federal and state funding assistance for local roads is insufficient.

"However, a shortfall in revenue must not be addressed by unfairly targeting motorists as cash cows."

The study found more than $457 million could have been reinvested back into local roads over the three years from 2011-12 to 2013-14 if local road funds financed by parking fines had been established.