A PARKING meter rollout has been scrapped and car spaces made free as new councils reject unpopular parking meter regimes. New figures show 156 parking fines are handed out in NSW every hour.
Newcastle Council has voted to halt the planned introduction of almost 190 parking meters in suburban shopping strips and to make weekend parking free from Saturday afternoons.
It will also consider two-hour free parking across the city and selected free 15 to 30-minute spots.
Mosman Council will investigate a parking appeals panel to allow residents to challenge fines, similar to schemes in Parramatta and North Sydney.
Of 1287 fines appealed in Parramatta last financial year, more than half were downgraded to a caution and 51 were withdrawn.
The deputy mayor of Mosman, Roy Bendall, said council rangers should not be raising revenue by ''standing behind trees waiting for people to commit offences … [they should] be out in the public managing a scarce resource''.
North Sydney Council has backed a 15-minute free parking trial, where sensors in the ground linked to parking meters, would monitor a car's stay.
Residents could also be issued with swipe cards to allow them further free parking, the mayor of North Sydney, Jilly Gibson, said.
''As a council, we have to acknowledge that our residents want to see us manage parking in a more effective way and they expect us to come up with more innovative solutions,'' Cr Gibson said.
In the three months to September, 344,000 parking tickets were issued in NSW, equating to 156 every hour. Motorists paid out $163 million in parking fines in the past financial year. That was $21 million more than five years ago, according to figures from the Office of State Revenue.
Parking meters and fines have long been council cash cows. Waverley Council earned $16 million from its meters last year, alongside North Sydney Council ($14 million), Parramatta Council ($10 million) and Leichhardt Council ($7 million).
The City of Sydney collected $34.1 million from parking meters, $9.3 million from parking stations and $35.4 million from fines.
In Leichhardt, a trial of free 30-minute spaces triggered concern after a council report found it could mean a $46,000 drop in revenue every three months.
However, the mayor, Darcy Byrne, disputed that figure, saying it was based on just one week of the trial.
Meanwhile, the Committee for Sydney and the Sydney Business Chamber has welcomed a decision this week by the City of Sydney's councillors to review its parking policies, including a feasibility study into free 15-minute parking.
But the committee's chief executive, Tim Williams, said parking decisions must not be made in isolation, and ''must be closely linked to decisions about improving access to the CBD''.