Mobility card holders angry at pay parking
Palmerston North mobility card holders are rebelling against the city council's insistence they pay for metered parking like everyone else.
Until recently, users like David Vickery believed their $50 mobility card entitled them to park for free.
Council transportation planner Sandi Morris and CCS Disability Action regional manager Toddy Shepherd said that had never been the case.
But in May, the council wrote to about 3200 card holders explaining that they had to feed the meters, or would be ticketed.
The card does give them an extra 30-minute grace period, but it does not exempt them from paying for mobility parks in paid parking areas.
Mr Vickery has been to complain to Palmerston North mayor Jono Naylor about it, and on Monday he will be supporting a deputation to the council's planning and policy committee meeting.
"I will be there, and I'm not paying for my meter, and they can issue me with a ticket. And they can take me to court."
Mr Vickery said people with disabilities were paying for their parking twice, first paying $50 for their card, and then having to feed the meter as well.
DPA Palmerston North and Districts co-ordinator Delysse Kennard said the group was fielding at least four complaints a week about the council's enforcement on card holders.
"Something has changed, and a lot of people don't understand it.
"People coming from out of town are not aware they have to pay for parking.
"They do not understand the concept of having to pay for both the card and the parking."
Ms Kennard said people with disabilities, on low incomes or benefits, struggled to afford the extra money needed to park in the central business area and at the hospital.
Those who had been caught out by wardens were choosing to avoid the middle of town and its shops and businesses altogether.
Instead, those people were arranging to do their shopping and meet people at supermarkets or shopping centres where parking was free of charge.
But CCS Disability Action, which issues the mobility cards, says people with disabilities should pay up the same as other motorists.
Ms Shepherd said that had always been the rule. The only difference was that the council had started enforcing it.
"There is nothing in our information that gives people the impression that they can park for free.
"A lot of people with disabilities say that they want to be treated like everyone else, and everyone else pays for a parking meter. That's being inclusive."
Ms Shepherd said people with disabilities could not argue that they were less able to afford parking meter money than any other people on low incomes or benefits.
"But I do understand why they are kicking up at the moment. The council has to take some responsibility for suddenly deciding to enforce it."
Ms Morris said all mobility card holders received information about the enforcement.
She said the council had not changed any of the terms in their agreement, which had always required them to pay when parked in metered areas.
"Many valid permit holders have been confused about their requirements to pay at the meter, as council has not previously provided enforcement."
Staff provided "friendly reminder" notices in the lead-up to the enforcement policy.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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