A cancer patient fined NZ$100 for forgetting to display his mobility parking permit is calling for compassionate discretion towards people in his situation.
Retired police officer Les Pearson, 68, said those with mobility parking permits were often forgetful due to old age, medication, and/or the stress and exhaustion of illness. He said many were sickness beneficiaries or living on the pension and that fines of $100 or more wiped out much of their week’s income.
Mr Pearson, whose mobility is “severely limited” by cancer, was parked outside a south Auckland optometrist on Monday when he got ticketed by Elite Parking Services. He immediately emailed the company a photo of his permit and asked to be excused from paying the fine.
Elite Parking Services’ reply to Mr Pearson, viewed by Stuff, stated he had broken the rules and must face the consequences.
The company’s owner Gordon Ward told Stuff it got slews of complaints about ticketing and steered clear of “the personality side of it”.
“Everyone thinks they should be let off, everyone’s got an excuse, most sound tenable. But we don’t have the time and staff to verify every single one and if we don’t draw a hard line, mobility parks will be even more abused than they already are.
“It’s almost impossible for us to let these tickets slide. We can’t know who was driving the car. All we know is that there was no permit displayed.”
Mr Pearson, who lives in north Auckland’s Birkenhead with his wife, was diagnosed with advanced multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, in 2013 and prostate cancer in 2018.
The cancers and their treatments have weakened his body and he’s had a mobility parking permit for the past three years. But he said he often had to be reminded to use it.
“There’s this thing they call chemo-brain, it stuffs up your memory and can make you quite forgetful during and after chemotherapy,” Mr Pearson said.
Elite Parking Services’ response to Mr Pearson appeared to have been taken from CCS Disability Action’s website, stating mobility parking permit holders were liable for a fine of up to NZ$150 if they failed to display their permit on either their rear view mirror or dashboard. CCS Disability Action administers New Zealand’s mobility parking scheme with the cooperation of district councils.
Permits are issued to a person, not a vehicle, the website stated. If other drivers used the vehicle without the permit holder, the permit must not be displayed. That’s a reason permit holders often don’t simply leave them visible, Mr Pearson said.
Mr Pearson agreed motorists abusing mobility spaces should be fined. But he said it was “disappointing and unfair” for vulnerable people – which permit holders often were – to be punished for honest mistakes.
Elite Parking Services gained notoriety for its controversial clamping practice, deemed “predatory” by Transport Minister Phil Twyford in 2015 and Otahuhu Business Association.
Those who have previously complained about their fines include an 86-year-old grandmother seeking urgent medical attention, and a grieving mother reporting her son’s death at a police station.
In November last year, a new law was passed to curb overzealous wheel clamping and the hefty fees charged to release vehicles.
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