Costly clamping lesson

Staff only: The high school carpark on Gorge Road

Queenstown high school students face a $200 charge for parking in staff spaces.

Wakatipu High School has chosen the nuclear option to deal with its parking problem – it’s started clamping.

Anyone who parks in staff parking areas at the Fryer Street school can be clamped and towed, including pupils, parents, neighbours and commuters.

The release fee is $200 or $250 if the car is towed.

Principal Steve Hall says: “It is a big step and to be fair you wouldn’t expect it from a school.

“It’s not a normal thing but it’s just our extraordinary circumstance where we’ve got very, very full.

“Every space counts for us.”

Hall says it appears non-school people are using the parks.

The school has 52 parks and more than 90 staff. There is also a council-run carpark on Fryer St.

School staff will clamp offending cars on-site but they don’t have the keys to remove them.

A release fee is payable to Remarkables Towing, which owns the clamps. It can take the company one-to-two hours to get to the school.

The school’s put notices on windscreens of unauthorised cars in recent weeks, held assemblies and installed new signs.

Andrea Wilton-Connell, the school’s executive officer, says students have been given “weeks and weeks” of reminders.

“Hopefully we don’t end up clamping too many people,” she says.

“We certainly hope students won’t be clamped but they’ve been told on numerous occasions.”

Visitors can get a pass.

Queenstown Primary School introduced restrictions in its town centre carpark last year, with signs to say unauthorised cars will be towed.

The high school’s considering expanding the carpark on the Gorge Road side of the school for staff, freeing up more parks in the council-run Fryer St carpark for students and parents.

But that requires resource consent and the school moves to a new site at Remarkables Park in January.

Hall hopes there’ll be enough space at the new school.

“That’s the plan – I certainly hope so. It’s being built for 1200 [students].”