Fear of abuse stops park complaints

LISA KNIGHT
Last updated 12:00 24/06/2014
Mobility
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

TURF WARS: Mobility Manawatu owner Letitia Stick was abused after asking someone not to park in the mobility car park without a permit. Pictured with Ian MacDonald in his mobility scooter.

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Good samaritans who confront Manawatu drivers parked illegally in disabled car parks have faced verbal and physical abuse, with one woman having a milkshake thrown at her.

Mobility Manawatu owner Letitia Stick said people parking in the mobility car parking spot outside her shop without a permit was almost a daily occurrence.

Fear of being abused put people off approaching drivers and those with disabilities didn't like to complain, Stick said.

"They know probably 80 per cent of the time they could be abused . . . quite frequently I get shouted at or abused or told I need to mind my own business."

On one occasion this month she approached a group of women parked in the spot without a permit card displayed.

"I went out and asked if they had a card and they just started swearing and cursing and came quite close to me as if they wanted to hit me."

The women then threw food and a milkshake at her and all over the footpath, she said.

Reports of mobility car park misuse come after survey results last week revealed Palmerston North as a hot spot for people with disabilities.

Twenty-seven per cent of the Manawatu-Whanganui region's population has a disability, above the national average of 24 per cent, the survey showed.

Ian MacDonald, who requires a mobility scooter, said he often came across unauthorised people parking in disability spots.

"People say ‘I'll only be a minute'. There's been a number of times when I've ended up parking in a proper spot where they could have parked."

MacDonald once "copped a mouthful of abuse" when confronting someone who had parked in a mobility car park illegally.

"These people better hope and pray they never need one themselves one day."

Jude Stephenson, service manager at the Manawatu branch of CCS Disability Action, which is responsible for issuing the mobility parking permits, encouraged people to report the misuse of parks to the council or to private owners, such as at supermarkets.

"I'd like to see people who are responsible for car parks be a bit more vigilant with the monitoring of the parking spots as well."

CCS issued 823 mobility permits in Manawatu in the past 12 months.

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- Manawatu Standard

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