Casino parents park their thoughts on local FB page
UPDATE 3pm: CASINO's community paper The Richmond River Express Examiner has received an irate stream of comments on its Facebook page over parking issues outside Casino Public School.
By and large commenters have sympathised with the plight of parents stung with big council parking fines over relatively minor infringements.
Some are blaming Richmond Valley Council for the issue, while others have blamed the Department of Education for failing to provide adequate parking on school premises.
Erica Trustum said parking outside the school had "been an ongoing issue for years now".
"I've been stung as well, trying to drop my children as close to the pedestrian crossing as possible to be safe. They're even stinging people for double parking briefly to let children out."
"It's terrible because the fine carries a two demerit point loss also."
But parents were not blameless either, Ms Trustum added - not even herself.
"There are rules surrounding drop off zone but parents abuse that system, I've seen parents on numerous occasions get out and light up a cigarette and have a chat with other parents and their children have already walked into school.
"What's annoying is the parking inspector isn't out every day, so I may be stung for it on a Monday, but for the rest of the week it's ok.
Ms Trustum's suggested the school or council build a drop-off bay for parents.
Another Facebook post from mum of five Shae Lyons described how she routinely did "three laps of the school to get a park".
"But I'd much rather do that than spend 30 seconds in a no parking zone and risk losing points on my licence and copping a fine," she said.
Grandmum Marolyn Cecil Blake shared her story of being fined and called for the Education Department to take action on the problem.
"It is time the Education department were made to make staff parking available away from the school , and the staff USE those parks, so parents can at least get some parks close to the school," Ms Blake said.
"We have been fined too for double parking when one of us was still in the driver's seat while the other walked our grandchild across the pedestrian crossing.
"We paid the fine because we know it is illegal but what do you do when it is raining and there are no parks.
"As others have said need a drive through drop off bay, there is room in front of the main gates."
But not everyone has been sympathetic to parents' parking plight.
Maree Townsend wrote that she didn't know why "parents acted surprised to be fined".
"The school has often put information in the schools newsletter regarding this matter. This is NOT new information its pretty simple, follow the rules and you won't get fined."
UPDATE 11.18am: COMMENTERS on The Northern Star's Facebook page have (so far) been less than forgiving over a Casino dad's protest over a hefty parking fine he received while dropping his six-year-old son to school.
Dad Adam Whitwell received a $319 council fine in the mail on Monday, after he was photographed by a council ranger while dropping of his son in a no-stopping zone opposite Casino Public School a few weeks ago.
Mr Whitwell said he had seen other parents do the same "hundreds of times" because there was simply not enough drop-off parking spaces available around the school.
But two commenters on Facebook had no sympathy for the Mr Whitwell's plight - nor any parents stung in similar circumstances. (Another Casino mum reportedly received three such fines in three weeks).
"Sorry to say," Stuart King wrote, "if you don't do the crime you don't get the fine, it's as easy as that, and yes I've had my fair share of them."
Wendy Leal wrote that "'No stopping' means exactly that."
"The protection of children is what is important here, not parents' laziness! We have laws for a reason and penalties for not abiding by them."
INITIAL REPORT: A CASINO parent has been slapped with a $319 parking fine for a routine 30-second school drop off.
Adam Whitwell is not the first to be stung by what he said was an overly harsh council attitude to parking violations outside Casino Public School.
The father of three, aged 6, 3 and 2, said he reckoned the council was intentionally targeting parents during the morning school rush, dubbing it "excessive and blatant revenue raising".
The school is surrounded by no-stopping areas and bus zones except for five drop-off spots which are "always full".
As a result it's become standard practice for parents to idle briefly in the no-stopping zone opposite the school.
Mr Whitwell was doing it a few weeks ago when he was photographed by a council parking officer with a camera in a car stationed opposite.
"Instead of saying 'stop you shouldn't park there', they won't say anything so they can get the money," he said.
"I wouldn't have been there for more than 30 seconds.
"Everyone does it, I've seen hundreds of cars doing it - I've done it heaps of times.
"They would have made a killing that day."
It's the second fine the family has received this year.
After raising the issue with the principal Mr Whitwell was told another parent was fined an outrageous three times in one week.
Making matters worse, Richmond Valley Council have been re-doing the gutter on the street opposite the school, ruling out about 10 or 20 parking spaces usually close enough for a quick drop-off.
It's difficult for Mr Whitwell or his wife Sally to park and get out of the car every morning because they have their two pre-school aged children in the car with them.
He said it wouldn't be so bad if the council had contacted the school about the roadworks and provided alternative parking - or relaxed their aggressive parking fine policy for the duration.
While there are other parks down the street within 50 metres of the gates, they are apparently often full of teachers' cars, because there is no teacher's car park.
"Why isn't there a spot already where you can just drive up, drop off, and drive away?"
Mr Whitwell said. "It's the worst school in town for parking. It's absolutely horrible."