Lake Macquarie City Council will withdraw parking fines issued to commuters who parked on a reserve near Cardiff train station in recent weeks.
The backflip comes after the Newcastle Herald approached council following numerous complaints from early-morning commuters.
Those who used the station were seething in the days after Easter as council issued a raft of fines for cars parked on land in Mary Street.
The parking woes led to Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery moving a notice of motion in state parliament on Tuesday calling for a solution to the lack of available parking.
Ms Hornery says changes to Newcastle’s bus network has led to more cars in the area, as commuters are unable to catch an early-morning bus to the station.
“This has been an ongoing issue for many years but has steadily become worse in the last six months or so,” she said. “Buses no longer operate in the early hours of the morning so many commuters are forced to drive and park at or near the station in order to get a train to Sydney between 5 and 6.30am.
“Parking has become very difficult for many people.”
That difficulty was encountered by 20-year-old student Jake Phillips, who was fined on Tuesday for parking on the grass reserve at the end of Mary Street near Cardiff Scout Group hall.
His trip to Sydney proved costly when he returned to find a $257 parking fine sitting on his windscreen.
He was not alone.
“All the streets were full, the actual paid parking was full and even this grass area we [only] managed to squeeze in next to another car,” Mr Phillips said.
“There were no signs saying no parking, so we parked there. We come back and I counted 30 or 40 cars and they all had tickets on them.”
Parking issues have plagued the station for many years and similar problems arose when it underwent a $14m overhaul in 2013.
“I would like to see the government work with council to find a short-term solution with the area at the end of Mary Street and work on a longer term solution to the commuter car parking area,” Ms Hornery said.
Council said they were “conducting a compliance exercise in response to complaints from residents”, but no further fines will be issued until signage is installed.
“Council understands that drivers may have been unaware that the lot was a non-parking area and will withdraw any fines that were issued to cars parked on the Mary Street site between 4 April 2018 and 11 April 2018,” a council spokesperson said.
“Council will contact Revenue NSW and advice will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. Fines issued for infringements in other areas will remain in force.”
While Lake Macquarie City Council has given a reprieve to those fined in the specific dates, the spokesperson said their long-term focus was on the development of a new transport interchange.
“Council is aware of parking congestion around Cardiff Station and recently transferred its land holding in the immediate area, which included part of the car park, to Transport for NSW at no cost, to facilitate the maximum use of available land for car parking purposes,” the spokesperson said.
“Access and car park improvements were undertaken as a result of that transfer.
“Cardiff Station is a busy station with very limited scope for expanded car parking, due to the proximity of surrounding urban development and challenging topography of the area, which also restricts accessibility.
“Council believes the best long-term solution is the development of the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange, which would include the provision of a new train station and facilities to allow people to transfer easily between modes of transport.”