When is a white car not a white car?
That's the question posed by the roll-out of the new Smarter Parking 'Licence Plate Registration Vehicles' now doing the rounds of the shire enforcing parking restrictions and breaches.
The cars are a striking shade of blue, but they were not always so. In fact, like all council cars, they were originally ordered in white. They have been 'vinyl-wrapped' at a cost of $4000 a vehicle to give what one council insider described as a 'kinder, softer image' for council's new parking system.
Which leads to the second question: why not purchase blue cars in the first place? Surely such an approach would be cheaper, or exchanging the ordered white cars for blue vehicles?
In response to these questions, a council statement said: 'sometime after the purchase of the vehicles the decision was made for the branding of these vehicles as a result of the new parking system...The decision to rebrand the cars was made at a later date.'
The new cars are replacements for vehicles already existing in council's parking management unit fleet, the council statement says, and are not additional vehicles. 'They have recently been changed over as the previous models had reached the end of their useful life.'
Each of the new cars carries approximately $50,000 worth of number plate/registration recording devices, roughly double the value of the vehicle itself when new. The total cost of the 'Cellopark' number plate/registration recording devices purchased by the City of Ballarat is $225,255, council says.
The cars are just one aspect of a sweeping approach to the vexed issue of parking in Ballarat, first addressed in a September 2016 plan which aimed to break the city up into 110 separate parking precincts.
The 330-page plan, the result of months of surveys and council work, was expected to provide an extra 4,000 parking spaces in the city and would serve the city's needs for five to 10 years.
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