Auckland parking tickets: Public struggling with cost

Auckland Transport is raking in the parking fines across Auckland - and it's hitting the poorest worst.

Some are unable to afford to buy food and pay off their fines at the same time. Others are offering sexual services in exchange for help.

Between July 1, 2017, and June 31, 2018, the council-controlled organisation handed out 492,227 infringements and took in $32.2m - up $2m from the previous financial year's $30.2m.

Darryl Evans, chief executive of the Mangere Budgeting Services Trust, says the cost of parking tickets hits those on low and fixed incomes hardest.

"Any infringement takes money off the table of our families, single clients, students and pensioners."

One of the most common offences has been not displaying a current vehicle licence - this includes using an expired warrant of fitness (WOF) and car registration.

Mr Evans says that often people on limited incomes struggle to afford these.

"Often our clients struggle with these costs due to high rental costs, et cetera, and some will have no WOF or rego due to the fact of actually not having money left over after the rent, food, power, petrol, et cetera," he told Newshub.

"The average family of four currently only has $39 per week left over to buy groceries after paying the rent, power and gas."

Several people in the Newshub newsroom have struggled with the cost of their tickets. One worker got pinged for both her WOF and rego - a cost of $400, and a crippling one for a student. Fortunately she managed to appeal it.

"I would have been paying that off for quite a while. I was only getting probably about $300 a week at that stage," she said.

Another who got fined for having no registration said the cost is hard to afford on top of food and rent.

"I don't budget for them, so the $200 one is going to severely impact my budget."

One woman was forced to offer sexual services to her partner in exchange for money.

"Once I had so many parking tickets that I couldn't afford to pay them all, so I had to exchange a week's worth of unlimited sex acts to my boyfriend to pay them all off for me," she told Newshub.

"But actually who's the winner at the end of the day, because I told him there were five and he logged onto my thing and there were seven."

The Automobile Association agrees that the fine levels for vehicle licence infringements are "quite high".

"Some other fines, like not displaying a current WOF or vehicle licence, are $200, which is quite high," spokesperson Mark Stockdale told Newshub.

"This is why the AA supports the policies that some councils adopt, which is to waive these penalties if the vehicle owner promptly obtains a current WOF or licence."

And ignoring the tickets only makes things worse.

"The impact is not only stressful but it quite clearly takes money off the food bill, and importantly many of [our clients] will ignore the infringement notice and therefore will be hit hard with penalties, which of course accumulates," said Mr Evans.

The Mangere Budgeting Services helps its clients work out a payment plan to pay off the debt in small instalments.

"We most definitely encourage people to pay, however these can only be at a rate that they can realistically afford and not impact the family re food insecurity."