Minister reins in ‘parking cowboys’

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Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen has won praise and gratitude over his proposal for new statewide parking regulations that will apply to both private and public parking places all over the country. Solvik-Olsen said he was reacting to “unnecessary conflicts” between motorists and those handing out parking citations.

Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen of the Progress Party received flowers and a cake from state consumer advocate Randi Flesland, after announcing new, streamline parking regulations that will apply nationwide. They're said to be much more consumer-friendly and aimed at reining in the "parking cowboys" who've pounced too hard on motorists. PHOTO: Samferdselsdepartementet

Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen of the Progress Party received flowers and a cake from state consumer advocate Randi Flesland, after announcing new, streamlined parking regulations that will apply nationwide. They’re said to be much more consumer-friendly and aimed at reining in the “parking cowboys” who’ve pounced too hard on motorists. PHOTO: Samferdselsdepartementet

“The rules have been too rigid and we’re making them more consumer-friendly,” Solvik-Olsen told reporters after receiving flowers and being treated to cake by Norway’s top state consumer advocate Randi Flesland. She was delighted with the new proposals that will rein in aggressive parking guards who have been a bit too quick to write out expensive citations for minor offenses.

“I’m very glad that the same new rules will be imposed nationwide,” said Flesland, director of the state consumer council Forbrukerrådet. “This will be much better and more uniform for Norwegian consumers. We have worked towards this for years, and have a cake for the transport minister who took charge.”

Instead of parking rules varying from town to town or lot to lot, the same will now apply over the entire country, along with the same fines. Private parking companies will no longer be able to gouge customers, or even trick them into paying excessive fines. Consumers will also have a formal complaint process and will be faced with standardized fees and rules that all parking companies must follow.

“It will make it easier to park your car and will hopefully reduce the cowboy tendencies of some that have plagued parts of the industry,” Flesland stated in a press release.

Solvik-Olsen was clearly pleased by the enthusiastic reception to his proposed streamlining and regulation of the parking business. “We have seen some unnecessary conflict situations between customers and parking guards,” Solvik-Olsen said, “for example if you’re two minutes too late to get back to your car before your parking term expires, and you get hit with a big fine.” He made it clear the government was “cleaning up” the parking business.

Now the size of the fines will be strictly regulated with three clear levels of NOK 300, 600 and 900, and lowered for minor offenses. Motorists will also have a five-minute grace period before a fine can be levied. That means aggressive parking guards will no longer be able to stand and wait alongside a parked car and issue a citation just a few seconds after the time on the parking term has expired.

Signs will also be standardized as will the machines where motorists buy parking tickets to place on their dashboards, which display the date and time allowed for parking. The only variance among parking lots and garages will apply to owners of electric cars. It will up to local governments or the private parking lots and garages to decide whether parking will remain free for electric cars, as it has been nationwide until now.

The new parking rules will take effect from January 1, 2017.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund