Step by step, the Poznań municipality is putting the rules on parcel machines in order. An inspection found 58 illegally erected devices in historic districts. Fines and removal orders have poured in. And community activists are calling for further regulations.
Parcel vending machines ("paczkomat" is the proper name for devices operated by one of the courier companies) are a growing problem in Polish cities. On the one hand, they are a very convenient service, but on the other - they often take away the convenience of using common space: functionally and aesthetically.
Thus, more than a month ago, the authorities of Poznan announced guidelines for parcel machines erected on properties owned by the city (we wrote about this in the article Parcel machines — will there be less free-americanism? New guidelines). Now an inspection by the Office of the City Historic Preservation Officer has found that in the center and historic districts (Jeżyce, Lazarus, Wilda, Sołacz), as many as 58 devices were erected without the legally required permits.
liquidation and punishment
Only three of the inspected vending machines were erected in accordance with the law. The rest must be liquidated: 15 Allegro vending machines and 43 InPost devices. Both companies were fined - respectively: PLN 37.5 thousand. and PLN 107.5 thousand. Both companies have already appealed the decision to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Jacek Maleszka of the Office of the Municipal Conservator of Monuments thus informs on the City Hall website:
InPost has been operating on the Polish market for many years, but it has repeatedly violated the current regulations and has not taken any voluntary action to avoid the consequences of breaking the law. Allegro's vending machines, on the other hand, have been operating in urban spaces for a short time, and the company itself has pledged to put in place appropriate procedures to avoid such violations in the future.
Vending machine storing packages set up without a permit — Poznań, Piekary Street
photo: Jakub Glaz
Does this mean that residents of the wider downtown area will not be able to use the vending machines? No, but the owners of the devices will have to dismantle them and - after obtaining approvals - put them up again. This is because, according to the Law on the Protection of Monuments, legalization of the existing state is not possible. City Historic Preservation Officer Joanna Bielawska-Pałczyńska specifies:
Companies erecting vending machines of this type must [...] obtain the appropriate permit from the Municipal Conservator of Monuments and make a notification to the Department of Urban Planning and Architecture, and in the case of an individual entry in the register of monuments, a construction permit. What's more, the devices should fit into the space and complement it aesthetically, which in many cases they deny, exacerbating spatial chaos.
Poznan is not the enemy
Poznan Deputy Mayor Mariusz Wisniewski stipulates that the city is not an enemy of vending machines, but it's high time their location and forms were thought out and complied with regulations. Bielawska-Palczynska in turn adds that:
erecting the machines can contribute to improving the quality of the surroundings through the introduction of greenery, pavement repairs or other measures.
Forcing the magistrate to take such creative measures is called for by Poznań social activists from the Freedom Square Association, who write on their Facebook profile:
In our dream city, package stores would be overgrown with greenery, they would be quality elements of small architecture with additional functions. Maybe with bike racks, maybe with parking for scooters, maybe with benches, a Wi-FI zone, maybe chargers, including those for electric vehicles. There is a lot of room for improvement here. [...] The city should set higher standards: innovative and in line with green measures. And it's definitely not about painting green or putting up a flower pot, but about concrete solutions.
So far, InPost does not report such creative changes. Through the mouth of a spokesperson, it has only apologized to users of the machines for the problems caused by the temporary absence of parcel machines. We have yet to hear an apology for the violation of regulations and inconvenience caused by bad location. Nevertheless, the Poznań precedent is a strong warning to InPost, which will have to give up taking formal shortcuts throughout the country.