Marion van Dijk/Stuff
People who bought one or more of Nelson City Council’s old lollipop parking meters might have got the bargain of the year, wirth resale value potentially ten times what they paid. (File photo)
Nelson’s old lollipop parking meters, which were sold for $10 each, could have netted ten times more, an auctioneer says.
The Nelson City Council replaced all its old parking meters over the last month. It sold its 150 lollipop meters on a first come, first served basis to reduce landfill waste and raise money for the Fifeshire Foundation charity.
The price was “to give all Nelsonians the chance to own a piece of Nelson’s history”, a council officer said.
But the $10 tag left auctioneer and Nelson Residents’ Association chairman John Walker aghast.
“Just last month I sold three lollipop parking meters, one was a bit rough and got $80, the others went for $120 … If we average the price to about $100, that’s $15,000. It’s even more annoying because it’s actually part of our history, that’s why everyone wants one.”
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The council sold all 150 meters in a single 24-hour period, with. Walker said it was a double-whammy, because the council would receive rebates on charitable donations, so a higher donation would have ended up with more money back in its coffers.
“I’ve had three people call me, as president of the Residents’ Association, to complain,” he said.
“I’m disgusted that they went with that [price], they could have got a lot more. These meters don’t come up for sale.”
He predicted several of the meters would likely have been bought by dealers who knew what they were looking at and what the resale value would be, “and I can’t blame them for going for it”.
At auction in Australia in 2014, a similar parking meter cut down and mounted sold for $350 AUD.
“As a member of the Vintage Car Club, there’s about 150 [members], they would have been climbing over themselves for one.”
He said the meters should have gone out to public tender, “so no one can say I’m biased, as an auctioneer”.
Councillor Pete Rainey raised questions about the sale price at a meeting where the councillors were informed that all 150 meters sold within 24 hours, raising $1,500 for charity. He said selling them was a good idea but they could have gone for much more.
“Good on them [council staff] for trying to get something back, and I don’t want to take away from the guy whose idea it was, it was a good idea, but it’s just an unfortunate outcome,” he said.
“I think it’s really great that they’ve raised money for the Fifeshire Foundation, however in my personal experience I think they could have got a better price.”
Stuff asked if the council had the meters valued before they were sold, if anyone had been consulted on potential sale value, or if the meters would have been thrown away if they hadn’t been sold.
In a statement from group manager, infrastructure, Alec Louverdis he said the sale was “an innovative idea from Nelson City Council staff designed to avoid the meters becoming scrap metal.
“It allowed us to quickly clear space at Civic House while raising some money for charity at a time when charitable organisations around Nelson are struggling. The price was set to give all Nelsonians the chance to own a piece of Nelson’s history while taking into account the varying quality and functionality of the meters.
“This initiative reduced waste and raised $1500 for the Fifeshire Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping local people in need.”
In March this year, Hastings District Council sold off 500 of its old lollipop meters at a limit of two per person, at $25 for a single-headed meter and $35 for a double.