Monthly Archives: July 2018

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Support for police family

THIN BLUE LINE: Inspector Gerard Lawson, Faye Cooper, Margaret Williams and Superintendent John Gralton on Thursday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll FOR the past year, Margaret Williams has been asking herself “what if”.
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What if she had pressured her son to see the doctor. What if she had called more often. Just what if they detected the cancer sooner.

Mrs Williams lost her son, Clinton Williams, a respected police officer with the Brisbane Waters Local Area Command, in September last year to brain cancer, leaving behind a wife and two children, and sorrow between the thin blue line.

But as the grandmother has found, thanks to NSW Police Legacy, the thin blue line gets thicker in times of heartache.

Families of NSW Police Force personnel, including those killed in the line of duty, came together on Thursday at Newcastle policestation for the legatee lunch –an initiative that is more than just breaking bread, but recognition that personalsacrifice has not been forgotten.

Mrs Williams, who was attending her first legatee lunch, said the value of a sympathetic earhad been “absolutely fantastic”.

“They [Police Legacy] havebeen very, very supportive,” she said. “It’s been a tough year on the family –a lot of those what if questions –but you realise you’re not alone.”

Newcastle City Local Area Commander Superintendent John Gralton said local cops had a proud history of supporting Legacy.

“That’s something that will continue,” he said. “We will continue to fundraise because it’s all about caring for the police family, one that you’re always part of.We say the thin blue line gets thicker in times of adversity.”

NSW Police Legacy said the luncheon was one of many services provided to the families of fallen Hunter police officers.

The organisation also runs holiday programs and hands out more than $250,000 in education grants peryear for Legacy children.

Arecent challenge has been responding to what happens after police leave the force and the effects of post traumatic stress disorder.

Mrs Williams said her son’s illness probably went unnoticed because he maintained a high pain threshold as a police officer.

“We need to recognise the sacrifices, and if only we could do it more often,” she said.

Good Intentions

CREATIVE RUSH: Actors Simone Smith and Matthew Heys wrote and produced Intentions in under a month. Picture: Josh Leeson
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SICK of auditioning for roles and being a mere tool for someone else’svision, Newcastle actors Simone Smith and Matthew Heys embarked on thecreative process head on.

In the initial stages the synopsiswasunclear. They just knew they wanted to write a play analysinghow humans interactwhen forming new relationships.

That was three weeks ago with the cast and venue hired, but no script finalised. On Friday Intentions opensat Newcastle’s Royal Exchange.

Intentions was a manic debut writing experience for Smith and Heys, who both have extensive theatrebackgrounds. Smith has worked in Los Angeles in film and television for the past four years, and previously made small screen appearances on After The Deluge,Winners and LosersandNeighbours.

Matthew HeysTheLast Stupid ThingandGenevieve Butler’s Eden.

“As actors most of the time you’re telling someone else’s story,” Smith says.“There is an element ofempowering yourself. A lot of the time you’re waiting for someone to give you a job, waiting for someone to cast you, you’re auditioning and putting your heart and soul out there.”

Writing Intentions has also been acatharticprocess for Heys. A chance to gain confidence in his own artistry and ability to tell stories. He also hopes it provides something unique for Australian theatre.

“We need to see more diversity in what material is being shown in Australia, it’s all a bit safe and recreating, recreating,” Heys says.“We’re gettingHedda Gabler or Shakespeare again, just with a certain set change or a star performer in it.

“There’s a lot more to say. The diversity of that human experience, is vast and ever-evolving especially in this day and age. Don’t have this myopic view of the world. Open it up and spew it out. It might make people uncomfortable, but good theatre should have that element. Not just be entertainment.”

Smith and Heys only met less than two months ago through mutual friends at a Newcastle hotel. They immediately struck a creative friendship and after watching the film 20thCentury Women together decided to write a theatre production.

FULL CAST: Intentions forced all performers to contribute their personal stories of dating and forming relationships.

“We started talking about the things that people have to do to win somebody’s affection,” Smith says.“There’s a lot of different masks we put on. You’re supposed to look and act a certain way in order for someone to desire you.

“We hashed that out and talked about our experiences that we had in our personal lives and most of the time all you want to do is get to know someone and actually find out who they are, but there’s all these distractions.

“It’s about pulling them all away and being brave and vulnerable enough to go‘here I am’.”

That vulnerability also transferred to the actors in Intentions, which also includes Smith and Heys. The performers were asked to contribute their own personal experiences, comfortable or not.

“It’s a tall order to expect a group of people who have never worked together to jump on board,” Smith says.“They’ve embraced it and they’re a very big part of the process. We see the whole cast as collaborators.”

Intentions plays at the Royal Exchange on Friday and Saturday nights.

Olsen returns to find the harbour of his childhood a masterpiecephotos

Olsen returns to find the harbour of his childhood a masterpiece | photos WHERE IT BEGAN: John Olsen at the Newcastle Art Gallery with his bronze ‘Frog’ and painting ‘King Sun & the Hunter’. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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WHERE IT BEGAN: John Olsen at the Newcastle Art Gallery with his sketches, ‘Harbour’ 1-4 and ‘Octopus’, and painting ‘King Sun & the Hunter’. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

WHERE IT BEGAN: John Olsen at the Newcastle Art Gallery with his bronze ‘Frog’ and painting ‘King Sun & the Hunter’. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

WHERE IT BEGAN: John Olsen at the Newcastle Art Gallery. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

WHERE IT BEGAN: John Olsen at the Newcastle Art Gallery. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

WHERE IT BEGAN: John Olsen at the Newcastle Art Gallery. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebookFrog,to the Newcastle Art Gallery. Two blocks awayisthe addressin Dawson Street, Cooks Hill, where he was born. A small crowd somehow appearseach time he stops by –the black beret is a giveaway.

“It’s a reaffirmation, it’s a sense of place. It’s where I scribbled in my mum’s cookbook,” Mr Olsen said.

“It’s where my father remarked, ‘I’m concerned that John might burst his brains’.”

The gallery’ssix new Olsensswell its collection to 43,including King Sun & the Hunter, the centerpiece of last summer’s exhibition “John Olsen: the City’s Son”.

Whether or not it’s somethingresidual from his early childhood in 1930s Newcastle, Olsen ispulled to the “strong brown god” of the Hunter River and the harbour it opens out to, and the wayit all looks fromhis room in the Crowne Plaza.

“One has been painting gumtrees, but I’d think the harbour is much more interesting. The movement of cranes and shapes intersecting; it’sexciting,” he said.

“When the rivergets to the harbour there’s this explosion of energy with vessels waiting outside.”

Mugging for the camera with his bronze Frog –“the kissing is over,” he declared, finally –Olson stood beneath The sea sun of 5 bells, hismural installed in the gallery’s ceiling.

His approach to painting it in 1964, as to all of his work: “I don’t know what it’s going to look like. It’sterrific”.

Watch as Thallon silos painting is finished

An artist impression of the silos which will be finished later today.THEY may be battling a tough crop outlook but the drinks will be flowing strong in Thallon, south of St George, as Queensland’s first silo artwork is officially launched.
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HARD WORK: Artists Joel Fergie (The Zookeeper) and Travis Vinson (Drapl) in front of the Thallon silos.

Among those who deserve plenty of cold ones areBrisbane artists Joel ‘The Zookeeper’Fergieand Travis ‘Drapl’ Vinson who plan to sit down with abeer looking out at the silo artwork they have finally completed.

The men have used nothing but an A4 impression to replicate their design featuring images captured by locals of the town’s producers,sheep and the Moonie River.

The giant mural painted on the 300,000 tonne GrainCorp grain receival site was created with about 500 litres of paint and 500 spray cans.

WANT MORE SILO ART?Rupanyup silosSheep Hills silosPatchewollock silosBrim silosThe pair learnt to paint through graffiti and Mr Fergie said they had moved from letters to subject matter.

“We certainly wouldn’t be doing what we are doing without graffiti, that’s for sure,” he said.

Mr Vinson even quithis job in air conditioning a few years ago to pursue the art.

“We still write our names but we do it legally,” he said.

The pair purposely didn’t change their mobile phone serviceso they wouldn’t be distracted and established themselves in Thallon life by going to the pub, meeting locals and visiting the attractions they were painting.

Balonne Shire councillor, Robbie Paul, who looks after the Thallon district, said he firmly believed the artwork would put Thallon on the map and was a positive for local growers battling a tough season.

“The last three years we have had a good harvest but this year is looking dry,” he said.

SIMPLY STUNNING: The silo artwork on Tuesday ahead of its completion and launch later today.

“Last year at any one time we had 320 trucks in one day unload here.

“There is a bit of chickpea and wheat planted now but a lot of country hasn’t even been sown this year.”

Plans for the project began two years ago when the Thallon Progress Association wanted to reinvigorate the small drought-stricken town.

Project manager Leanne Brosnan said sometimes the Thallon landscape lacked colour but the artwork had brought the town back to life.

“The visitors love that it is spectacular and the locals love it because the boys have been able to capture a sense of place,” she said.

“Hopefully it will bring back some of the vitality we lost when we lost the regular rail service (in the late 90s early 2000s).”

Queensland Country Life

Still no answers one year after death in cell

Rebecca Maher’s family believes she would still be alive if police had taken her home or to a hospital, rather than the lock-up.
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Twelve months after theWiradjuriwomanbecame the first Aboriginal person to die in police custody in NSW in 16 years, her family is still waiting for answers.

The 36-year-old was found dead inside a holding cell at Maitland Police Station at 6am on July 19, 2016, more than five hours after officers found her walking along the side of Wollombi Road at Cessnock.

The mother of four had not been charged. Apolice statement released the morning she diedsaid officers “detained” her because she “appeared intoxicated”.

Family members marked the first anniversary of her death on Wednesdayoutside Maitland Police Station.

They placed flowers and candles around a framed photo of Ms Maher and listened toI’ll See You Again by the band Westlife.

Her mother, Debbie Small, her brothers and one of her sons, Kaine, were among the close family and friends who released pink and white balloons into the sky as a tribute.

“We, Rebecca’s family, need to see Rebecca honoured and her death given meaning by making changes that will stop any further deaths in custody,” Ms Small said.

Still no answers one year after death in cell Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

Paying tribute: A year after Rebecca Maher died in a holding cell at Maitland Police Station, her close family and friends are still looking for answers. Picture: Marina Neil

TweetFacebookFairfax Media was unable to reach the Inspector, from Manning Great Lakes local area command, in charge of preparing the report.

In Sydney on Wednesday, the Indigenous Social Justice Association marched from Hyde Park to NSW Parliament House in support of Ms Maher’s family.

ISJA spokesman Ken Canning said he believed Ms Maher’s death was avoidable.

“It’s important to ensure Ms Maher’s family gets justice and those responsible be held accountable,” he said.

The Herald, Newcastle

Barbs fly over school plan

Election promise: Port Stephens MP and Shadow Minister for the Hunter Kate Washington with NSW Labor leader Luke Foley at Medowie on Tuesday. A war of words has erupted over their campaign for a new high school.A war of words has erupted over a possible new school atMedowie, withallegations that a Hunter MP has misled the community and a call for the region’s representative in the NSW Government to be sacked.
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It came after Shadow Minister for the HunterKate Washington challenged Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald to a public debate over whether Medowie neededa new public high school.

The challenge was issued after Mr MacDonald took to Twitter to criticise Labor’s announcement earlier this week that the party would build the school if elected in 2019. But Mr MacDonald told Fairfax Media he would not accept the challenge to debate the issue because “there is nothing to debate”.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald.

“I won’t be party to misleading the community that there is something to be debated,” he said.

“The Department of Planning and Department of Education advice is crystal clear –a high school at Medowie is not warranted and would undermine Irrawang and Hunter River highs.”

Mr MacDonald then accused Ms Washington of “misleading”Labor leader Luke Foley and the Hunter community on the prospects of a new school at Medowie in the foreseeable future.

“I understand Ms Washington was in receipt of the Department of Education advice when she made her irresponsible campaign promise at the 2015 election,” he said.

Talked to @JessRouse95 this morning.Labor promise to build a High School at Medowie will hurt Irrawang HS and Hunter River HS students

— Scot MacDonald (@ScotMacDonald1) July 18, 2017

“Since her election, she has been advised on a number of occasions by the Department of Education that there is no current case for a high school in Medowie.”

Ms Washington said she categorically refuted the claim that she had misled either the community or her party and labelled the allegation “spurious”.

“The only Education Department advice I received before being elected in 2015 was when I was a P&C representative on a working group into the future of Port Stephens schools,” she said.

“The draft report I was shown in 2009 endorsed a proposal for a high school in Medowie. I have never been provided with a copy of the final report, despite having been a member of the working party.

“The suggestion that the then Education Minister Adrian Piccoli was giving me secret departmental advice before the 2015 election is absurd. Mr MacDonald should produce evidence to back up his claims or the Premier should sack him.”

Ms Washington argued a new high school was neededbecause about 1000 students from Medowie and surrounds caught buses out of the area for school each day.

Mr MacDonald said it would be a “sub-scale” facility, would take students from other schools and reduce their ability to attract resources.

Games goal stuck on Toole’s racquet

SHOT: Merewether squash player Rohan Toole, who will be the No.3 seed at the Lake Macquarie Open at Cardiff this weekend, aspires to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games one day after he completes his primary school teaching degree at the University of Newcastle. Picture: Josh CallinanLake Macquarie Open number three seed Rohan Toole might bea long way from home but he intends on travelling even further to fulfill his Commonwealth Games dream.
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Toole, who turns21next week, was born and raised atCanowindra in the central west of NSW and moved to Merewether via Sydney after finishing high school to pursue his sporting aspirations.

For now a primary school teaching degree at the University of Newcastle, and this weekend’s tournament at Cardiff Squash Centre,taketop prioritybut the international tour beckons post study.

High on Toole’s agenda is representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games and while next year’s event on the Gold Coast won’t work out he has an eye towards 2022 and beyond.

Rohan Toole

“Every squash player’s dream in Australia is to play at the Commonwealth Games,” Toole said.

“It’s up there with World Championship teams.

“Probably not [Gold Coast] next year for me, but when I’m older definitely. Four years after that I’ll be 25 sohopefully I’ll be in the mix by then. But once I get my degree I’d like to get back into squash a little bit more and have a crack.”

Toole, who sits between 10thand 12thon the Australian men’s rankings, has worn the green and gold uniform on three occasions.

The first was aged 15 at the World Junior Championships, next was leading an under-19 Test series in Malaysia and most recently last year’sWorld University Games.Being named skipperof his country remains the highlight.

“It was probably my most memorable day,” Toole said.

“I was named captain and won in five. Definitely one of my best moments.”

Toole, who was introduced to squash by older siblingsoncourts underneath theshowground grandstand of his hometown, plays the national professional circuit and earlier this month successfully defended his Eastern University Games title.

This weekend, at the fourth edition of a revamped formerNewcastleOpen,Toole’smain opposition will come in the shape of top seed andcontroversialGlasgow Commonwealth Games representative Matthew Karwalski as well asDarwin’s Tony James.

In the women’s draw Newcastle’s Ros Dixon shapes as the best local chance.

There will be eight divisions overall –five male and three female.

Competition starts Saturday with grand finalsscheduled for 1pm on Sunday.

Games aim for Turner on double trap finale

Games aim for Turner on double trap finale TARGET: Bellbird shooter Tom Turner, with his 2004 Olympic uniform, will represent Australia at the World Championships in Russia next month. He hopes to qualify for a second Commonwealth Games. Picture: Josh Callinan
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TweetFacebook Tom TurnerPictures by Josh CallinanWorld Championship-bound shooter Tom Turner remainshopeful of finishing his international career with a Commonwealth Games medal on home soil next year but said he wasdisappointed about the possible removal ofdouble trap from futureOlympic schedules.

The Bellbird 44-year-old, who represented Australia in the discipline at Athens 2004, keeps focused on qualifying forthe Gold Coast in April but knows the next ninemonthscould bethe farewell tour ofhis beloved event.

“This is the end of my event,” Turner said.

“Double trap is one of the events that hasbeen cut from the the OlympicGames. At the minute they’restill arguing against it, but whether they have any luck Idon’t know.

“So theWorld Championships will be thelast one ever shot in double trap and there’s noworld events scheduled for next year. The Commonwealth Games is about the last event I know of internationally.”

On Wednesday theInternational Shooting Sport Federation released a statement urgingathletes to have their say about events onfuture Olympic programs via a specially-created forum.

The initial recommendation to scrap double trap was put forward earlier this year as the International Olympic Committee aimto achieve 50 per cent female participation at the Games inTokyo 2020.

Russell Mark made the event famous in Australia when he claimed gold and silver medals at back-to-back Olympics in Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000).

Turner said he feels forcurrent national teammate James Willett, aged 21 and ranked No.1 in the world for double trap after finishing fifth at the 2016 Rio Games.

“To me it’s not as big a deal, because I’m sort of at the end of my international shooting, but it’s different for younger guys likeJames Willett,” Turner said.

“He’s world number one at the moment and he’s got a long way ahead of him after putting a lot of money and time into it. I’m sure he’ll go on in single trap, but it’s a bit devastating for him.”

Turner and Willett were this week announced asAustralia’s men’s double trap representatives for the ISSF Shotgun World Championships in Moscow from August 30.

Performances at thatcompetition and a series of others in Darwin, Sydney and Brisbane before the end of the year will determine selections for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

There are two of these clay target positions available for the Gold Coast, but both won’t necessarily be filled.

Turner led but was eliminated in the semi-finals ofhis Commonwealth Games debut in Glasgow in 2014.

TRADITION: Bellbird father-son combination Jack and Tom Turner. Picture: Josh Callinan

Turner’s son Jack, 17, will wear the green and gold uniform for the first time next month when he represents the Australian junior team at the Universal Trench Championships in France.

Universal trench is the shortened version of single trap.

One day Turner wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and make the Olympic and Commonwealth games.

Student’s four tickets in one fine day

CAUGHT OUT: Jayden Payne, who lives on campus at the University of Newcastle’s Evatt House, returned from holidays to find four parking tickets that he can’t afford to pay on the windscreen of his car. He failed to realise his student parking permit expired days before. Picture: Max Mason-HubersJAYDENPayne admitshe’s done the wrong thing when it comes to parking his car, but he maintainsthat the University of Newcastle is the bigger offender.
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The 20-year-old, who lives in student accommodation on the university’s Callaghan campus, returned to Newcastle after aholiday at his parent’s Port Macquarie home to find four parking tickets on his windscreen.

Mr Payne didn’t realise his student parking permit expiredon June 30.

It’s the fifth parking ticket he’s received this year. Earlier in 2017his driver’slicence was suspended by the Roads and Maritime Authority after he failed to pay a parking fine issued by the university.

The fine and reminders were sent to his parents’ address in Port Macquarie.By the time he received the fine notifications, theycame with a letter telling him hislicence had been suspended two weeks ago.

He had to pay the fine and late fees before beingallowed back on the road.

“That happened at the start of the year and then when I came back from holidays the other day Ifound four parking tickets onthe windscreen of my car, that’s four times $108 which I just don’t have,” he said.

“I looked around and another car had about eight tickets on its windscreen. It’s highway robbery.”

The 20-year-oldsaid he forgotthat his six-month student parking permitexpired while he was away.

He argued fourfines was “exceedingly excessive”, especially for a student.

“I called them up and told them I didn’t have the money right now to pay all four fines and asked to go on a payment plan,” he said.

“They told me it wasbad luck and the unpaid fines would goto State Debt Recoverywhere there would bean additional$64applied to each fine and only then could I apply to go on a payment plan.”

Mr Payne said he found it “hard to believe” the university was so keenon handing out infringementswhen it was “impossible” to find a parksomedays.

Fellow student Bek Weber, who has had fourparking ticketsin 18 months,said thelack of car spacesat the universitywas a “constant issue”.

“It’s pretty rough when they are handing out so many fines, but not giving us adequate places to park,” she said.

A university spokeswoman said it had a “responsibility” to manage parking spaces in accordance with legislation.

There are 5500 car spaces at Callaghan, which is the university’s largest campus. The universitydeclined to reveal how many students and staff use the campus, but according to its 2016 annual reportit had more than 40,000staff and studentsacross allcampuses.

The spokeswoman said additional spaces wereavailable during peak times and the university had built two new bike hubs and partnered with a start-up company to createthe ride sharing app Liftango.

“We also actively encourage staff and students to consider a range of travel options, including more sustainable modes of transport, such as walking, cycling and public transport,” she said.

Sting for drivers as meter madness soars

HIP POCKET: Office of State Revenue data shows Newcastle City Council inspectors handed out an average of 50 tickets a week, the most in the Hunter Region. The number of tickets issued in Newcastle was 10 times the number issued in Lake Macquarie. HUNTER motorists are being slugged almost $17,000 a day in parking fines -not including those issued by police -with authorities insisting they are motivated by the public good, not revenue raising.
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Office of State Revenue data obtained by the Newcastle Herald reveals that Newcastle City Council has the region’s most zealous parking enforcement officers, each issuing an average more than 50 tickets a week.

Newcastle has 10parking officers and they issued 22,347 finesin the 10months to May, at an average of 2234 per officer, earning the council $2.9 million.

This is a jump of more than 30 per cent in the number of fines handed out when compared to the same time the year before, when 16,952 tickets were issued in the 10 months to May 2016.

A Newcastle City Council spokeswoman said there “were no easy solutions”and the needs of residents, businesses, workers and visitors had to be met.

She said the number of meters had dropped from 378 two years agoto 359.

“It will continue to reduce as transport changes occur in the inner city as part of the revitalisation program and construction of the light rail,” she said.

According to the data, the University of Newcastle has taken over from Lake Macquarie City Council as the second biggest issuer of parking fines in the region.

Parking-related notices issued by the university were on track to more than double last financial year.

The university raised $492,553 in the 10months to Mayfrom 4556 infringement notices, compared to $281,112 from 2652 notices in 2015-16.

Newcastle University Student Association president Michael Labone said students simply couldn’taffordparking tickets.

“I have to question the university why students have to pay parking here at all,” Mr Labone said. “The extra cost of fines just means that students won’t eat.”

A University of Newcastle spokeswoman said drivershad to followthe rules to ensurea “safe environment”.

Motorists have the best chance of escaping a parking fine in the Upper Hunter and Singleton council areas, where officers issued just one fine each in the year to May.

Hunter New England Health decreased the number of fines it handed out from 2450 in 2015-16, to 1813 in the 10 months to May. Over the same period, the Hunter Development Corporation increased its take from fines from $325,670 to $368,184.

Revenue from parking fines and meters is an integral part of many council and institution budgets.

Janice Wright, of Maitland, said parkingin Newcastle CBD was getting “harder and harder bythe day”.

The daily commuter said public transport was a “nightmare at the moment” and “not even worth considering”. She fears a combination ofnew residential high-rise developments and the University of Newcastle’s move to the CBD will compound the issue.

“Here’s hoping we don’t get to the crazy level that Sydney iswhere you need to take out a second mortgage to get a car park,” she said. “I’m just hoping things don’t get too much worse when all the students move into town, there’s hardly any new car spaces at the university’s new building.”

Parkingprices increasedatHoneysuckle’s three off-street car parks in March, with the daily rate going to $8 and the hourly rate to $3. The Hunter Development Corporation rises were the first in four years.

The council’s spokeswoman said meters and timed parking wereneeded to “ensure a turnover of vehicles”.“Enforcement is also a tool that is used to ensure a portion of parking spaces remain available,” she said. “Without enforcement, it is unlikely there would be sufficient turnover of vehicles to meet the parking needs of residents and visitors.”

Parking has been a pointof contention in the state government’s Revitalising Newcastleplans. Critics say the light railwill rob Newcastle of hundreds of car-parking spaces, while public transport advocates say parking is too cheap in Newcastle, and that lifting prices willencourage people to get out of their cars.

Revitalising Newcastle’sparking strategyrecommends cars be“intercepted” before entering the CBD, time limits on street parking should be slashed and Uber-style surge-basedpricing for car parksbe introduced.

The state government wants peopleto embrace “car-sharing” schemes, walk or ride a bike to work anduse public transport.