Mobility parking campaigns having zero impact

Even public employees are known to abuse the spaces, as this Hastings District Council car parked across two disabled ...

Even public employees are known to abuse the spaces, as this Hastings District Council car parked across two disabled parking spaces in Wellington in 2015 shows.

Nearly one in five New Zealanders illegally park in mobility parking spaces, and for the most part, they get away with it.

A report into the misuse of mobility parks released in October shows just three percent of illegally parked vehicles get ticketed.

That number, said CCS Disability Action New Zealand spokesman Peter Wilson, should be much higher.

"We want to try to find ways to see if we can identify these people quicker so that more fines can be issued," Wilson said.

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CCS Disability Action manages the mobility parking permit scheme for more than 130,000 disabled New Zealanders and commissioned Research New Zealand to do the report.

"Most people that are illegally parked, around 55 percent, did so for less than five minutes," Wilson said.

But the report shows the problem is worse at supermarkets and shopping centres, where monitoring is at the discretion of the car park owner. The average time spent illegally parked in private parking spaces was 11 minutes - a substantial difference, Wilson said.

Seventeen percent of people questioned who had no disability or permit had used a mobility park in the previous 12 months, the report said.

People either don't know the laws or, if they do, choose to ignore them.

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The results are unsurprising, Wilson said.

In 2006, a lack of awareness led to a media campaign and in 2008, fines for parking in mobility spaces increased from $40 to $150. Criteria for parking was made more explicit.

"It had zero impact," he said.

"Going into the community, going to work, going shopping, meeting friends, doing everything that we all take for granted - it's just stopping people participating and having a good quality of life.

"If you don't care and have no moral code and think that using a mobility park because you are only going to be a couple of minutes, you have no idea of the impact you have on somebody."

A number of councils around the country are looking at how they can help.

Hamilton City Council parking activities manager John Purcell said through discussion with Disability Waikato, including an extra sign at mobility parking spaces detailing the offence and the value of the fine if caught was suggested.

"We are going through the process of making sure we can get the wording appropriate," Purcell said.

"That was a good suggestion from Disability Waikato and we are looking to have those made up."

In Whangarei, the district council recently installed parking meters in four designated mobility parks as a method of controlling unauthorised parking.

That council ran into difficulty, though, and the meters were removed the following day after an outcry from mobility permit holders.

Hamilton's Purcell said illegal parking in mobility bays is a serious issue.

"Our wardens treat that as one of top priorities - looking after disability bays," Purcell said. "Since January [2016], we've issued 540 tickets for that offence [to December 21]."

A number of those tickets can be waived for various reasons, he said.

A Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request showed that in Hamilton, 255 fines were issued in 2015. In 2014, the number of fines was 243, with Ward and Victoria streets having the equal highest concentration of illegal parking in disabled zones.

As of October 2016, there were 142 fines issued for parking illegally in disabled parking zones in Hamilton.

In the three-year period, 380 fines were paid. The remaining were either waived, remain unpaid or have been redirected to the courts.

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 - Stuff

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