Matamata Chronicle

Tackling mobility space thieves

- Virginia Fallon

There’s the ‘‘I didn’t see the sign’’ guy who jolly well did, and the ‘‘I left my mobility pass at home’’ lady who jolly well didn’t.

OPINION: People who illegally park in mobility spaces are the worst.

We know the sort because we’ve all seen them: jaws set defiantly as they confidentl­y swing their cars into those prized spots at the front of wherever, determined not to walk one metre more than they have to.

If challenged – and they almost never are – they’ll reveal themselves to belong to one of several subsets of illegal parkers. They’re all doing exactly the same thing, they just have different excuses for doing it.

There’s the ‘‘I’m just ducking in for a minute’’ woman whose ability to see the future makes her certain nobody will need the park in the very short space of time she’s using it.

There’s the ‘‘I didn’t see the sign’’ guy who jolly well did, and the ‘‘I left my mobility pass at home’’ lady who jolly well didn’t.

There’s also the ‘‘I’m on extremely important business’’ person who believes that busyness excuses them, and the ‘‘all the parks for people with babies are taken’’ parent who believes the same.

And then there’s the ‘‘But I’ve got a boo-boo’’ type with a minor injury (like an infected nail) that they think somehow entitles them to park there. It doesn’t.

The worst thing about these individual­s is that they do it in the first place, and the secondwors­t thing is that they get away with it. Because, other than a bit of public shaming either in person or on the community social media pages, there are usually no actual consequenc­es for doing it. The fine is $150, but you’re more likely to be stung for illicitly parking on the berm outside the local sports fields, let alone allowing a meter to tick past the time you paid a small fortune for.

For those it does affect, though, the consequenc­es can be massive, which is why Lee Warn has been battling the issue for years.

‘‘If you can’t get in the car park, you go home instead; you can’t go out and do what you want to do,’’ he says.

In 2014, the wheelchair user made a complaint over the Auckland District Health Board not monitoring and enforcing proper rules for mobility parking at Auckland City Hospital.

Two years later, after no resolution from the DHB, he complained to the Human Rights

Commission, then applied to the Office of Human Rights Proceeding­s in 2017. A settlement was reached in 2020, with the DHB agreeing to monitor the use of the parks for at least 40 hours a week, establish a process to report breaches to dedicated cashiers, and enforce breaches when they occur.

Good job, except it took six years to get there, and the DHB has been in breach of the settlement agreement since the start of 2021. Warn is also still waiting to read a three-month report from the DHB which will review whether towing, ticketing and monitoring of the car parks is actually happening.

Ultimately, the issue of monitoring and fining people for illegally parking in mobility spaces has always been relegated to the too-hard basket. Despite that, a 2017 report found nearly one in five New Zealanders do it, and just 3 per cent are ticketed.

That means we’re left relying on people to do the right thing – which they won’t – and hoping they’ll eventually get a comeuppanc­e far worse than a ticket.

I like to think there’s a special spot reserved for them in that place we’re led to believe all such people eventually end up. I’ll likely see them there, though I’m going for different reasons.

 ?? ?? Mobility parking activist Lee Warn is waiting for the Auckland District Health Board’s three-month report to see if it has been monitoring mobility car parks.
Mobility parking activist Lee Warn is waiting for the Auckland District Health Board’s three-month report to see if it has been monitoring mobility car parks.
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