Heated debate has erupted among locals living in one of Sydney's most affluent suburbs after people spotted more parking sensors installed on busy streets, allegedly outside of areas council had originally announced they'd be deployed.
While many Manly residents have said the sensors are a helpful, smart use of technology, others in the area have accused Northern Beaches Council of "sneakily" adding more of the devices to roads, in a bid to more closely "monitor" drivers, and for their potential of "revenue raising".
In February it was announced the sensors would be installed along some of the peninsula's most popular coastal roads, including at Shelly Beach, Little Manly, North Steyne, South Steyne, Clontarf and Sandy Bay Road, aimed at make parking easier and "more accessible than ever before".
The devices, placed in the ground under the street's surface, are able to detect when a car is parked above, subsequently alerting drivers via the NSW Government's Park’nPay app if there are spaces available. Some residents however have since claimed the sensors can also be used to issue fines and have accused local authorities of over-policing.
Council says rangers will only monitor parking 'manually'
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Northern Beaches Mayor Sue Heins confirmed rangers will continue to monitor parking manually, "the same way they have always done", though it was unable to be clarified whether the sensors would notify rangers directly. It has been reported previously the app will not alert rangers a vehicle has overstayed, but does allow rangers to check how long a vehicle has been in a space.
"The installation of new parking sensors and accessing parking availability via the Park’nPay app will improve the customer experience in Manly especially in the warmer months when our beaches are most visited," Ms Heins said.
"Regardless of what method drivers use to pay for parking — paid, or using their Beaches Parking Permit, our rangers will continue to manage enforcement of these areas by checking vehicles manually, which is the same way they have always done so."
Council accused of exerting 'more control'
But not all are convinced of the rollout, with some locals taking to social media to question the new locations they've seen the sensors installed.
"Why are they installing them in the street parking areas now, along The Corso, Darley Road, and Wentworth Street?" one social media user said. "More control," said another. "Council need to be more transparent about their objectives," another said.
"Sensor monitors the time you parked and if you stay longer than allowed notifies the rangers," a man claimed, although the mayor refuted the claim. "Or it coordinates with the camera unit on a vehicle so they just drive by and take a photo of your number plate and post you an infringement notice."
According to the council, "drivers can pay and manage parking" through the Park’nPay app. The sensors also give staff the ability "to provide information to the community in real time" using "mobile message boards" when the system is fully operational.
A spokesperson for Northern Beaches Council confirmed that the new sensors that some residents had spotted were installed specifically for accessible parking and are not an expansion of the rollout.
Council will install a total of 760 sensors across the Manly parking areas, with the total project cost to the taxpayer estimated to be approximately $200,000.
The Park'n'Pay app is currently used in 14 local government areas in NSW.
Those with a valid Beach Parking Permit sticker can still park for free for four hours along Manly's beachfront.
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