The usual cold heart of a wheel clamping company has warmed to the plight of a group of illegally parked pregnant women.
Three couples who were clamped and two who were ticketed during their antenatal classes will be refunded their $200 fines.
Because they had no intention to park illegally, and had been told to park in the wrong place by their antenatal teacher, The New Zealand Wheel Clamping Company (NZWCC) said they would give them a one-off reprieve.
"Technically we had full rights to do what we did. Our guy followed procedure. But I have talked with the owner of the property and he has allowed me to handle it this way," said director Gordon Ward.
A free antenatal clinic for women in their last trimester has operated from west Auckland's Waitakere Community Resource Centre for five years and the teacher has always encouraged the class to park outside the building.
However, two Thursday nights ago, just five minutes after the group's first class had started, a late arriving couple encountered a man clamping the wheels on cars.
The parking officer, an employee of New Zealand Wheel Clamping Company (NZWCC) hired by private landowners to patrol their car parks, demanded $200 cash for the clamp to be removed.
But on this occasion the company was willing to let the group off because it was its first night using the car park and members had been been given wrong information.
It was a relief to be let off the fine and the money will go straight to preparing for the baby, said clamping victim, Jen Bramley, who is 34 weeks pregnant. "I am really grateful, I really do appreciate that," Bramley said.
"It is money we didn't have in the first place. To have it back will help a lot."
However, it was not a sign the clampers were going soft, and the women wouldn't be let off again, Ward said.
"God no, we wouldn't have that. We are not soft at all, we just thought on this occasion the events that led to these people parking was not of their manufacturing. The pregnancy wouldn't have saved them."
- Sunday Star Times