OPINION: There is no official slogan for Hamilton, New Zealand's fourth largest city.
May I respectfully submit my idea. Hamilton: Come visit us, now get the hell out or we will fine you!
Because in a move of Yes, Minister proportions, Hamilton City Council has come up with a novel way to attract shoppers to its ailing central business district: it will fine them for parking too long in the CBD.
If that sounds crazy, you'd be right. It's bat dung crazy but this is the same council which once dumped fluoride from the drinking water so I expect the monorail to Ogdenville to be opened any day now.
The current clanger goes like this. In a bid to attract more shoppers to the CBD the council wants to issue infringement notices to anyone who parks for more than two hours in CBD streets between 8am and 8pm Monday to Saturday. It is not known how much the fines will be because that part of the proposal has been left vague (it's as if they didn't think this thing through or something).
Existing parking meters will be ripped out and new ''smart technology'' installed that will let parking wardens know how long a vehicle has been parked. Special licence plate recognition software will keep track of which vehicles have entered and left the city and, more importantly, how long they have been there.
Oh, and there's an app for it, of course. Apparently it will show shoppers where the free spots are, raising the prospect of V8-style action back on the streets of Hamilton to grab that free spot.
The council has tentatively approved the plan. It's taking feedback from the public on it and will make a final decision in June.
To make it more palatable for shoppers the first two hours of parking will be free, but stay more than a minute over that and a parking warden could swoop down and ping you.
There will be NO option to pay for extra parking after your two hours are up. You will have to either move to one of the city's privately run, paid car parks or be forced to leave the CBD altogether. You won't be able to move to another on-street parking spot.
It's madness. By trying to attract people to visit their CBD and, more importantly, spend money in it, the council wants to effectively stop you from spending more than two hours in it.
Its argument that people can simply zip over to a paid car park once their two hours has expired is, quite frankly, cow manure.
You could be in a shop about to drop a bundle on some nice shoes but you check your watch and see you've got to run back to your car before you cop a fine.
Or think about people with children. I've got three little ones of my own and I can tell you getting two prams and three kids in and out of a car is Dante's fourth circle of Hell. There just isn't a situation short of avoiding nuclear war that I could imagine wanting to do it more than once in a day.
And what really kills me is I, along with so many other Hamiltonians, love the CBD.
It's cool and has killer shops and amazing street art and the best flat whites in New Zealand so it's a crying shame of epic proportions that the council seems hell bent on stuffing things up for everyone.
Hamilton's unofficial slogan is Hamilton: City of the Future. That could still work, but only if we are talking about some sort of dystopian nightmare where the people elected to run the city are going to fine shoppers for spending too much time shopping. Oh, wait...
Angela Cuming is a journalist and writer who lives in Hamilton with her three young sons.