‘Change will happen’

Claire Dale says a lot of people abuse mobility parking with the mindset of just grabbing a quick coffee. Photo: John Borren.

Increased fines for misuse of mobility carparks are that much closer thanks to one determined Tauranga resident.

In February 2022, Claire Dale presented a petition to Parliament calling for mobility carparking to be enforceable. Namely, the petition called for fines to be substantially increased nationally for misusing mobility carparks, including on private land that is used publicly.

“On private property for public use the fine is often no more than $100,” says Claire. “[But] 68 per cent of mobility parking abuse happens on private property – and when I say private property, we’re talking about supermarkets, shopping centres etc.

“When people abuse mobility parking spaces, they generally justify it in their own mind saying: ‘I’m just popping in for my coffee, I’m just popping in to pick up something from the supermarket, I’m not doing any harm’…but if somebody drives past in that 30 seconds and there’s someone in the space – then they can't park there.”

This means someone a part of the disabled community may have to return home, and miss out on their needed items or services says Claire, who has had six spinal surgeries.

“There’s all sorts of things on a daily basis that makes life really flipping difficult.”

However, last month Claire says she had the most “unexpectedly good news”.

On March 21, a special debate in Parliament was held, and a motion to forward the petition was carried unanimously.

“I’m pretty happy with the outcome of the Parliamentary debate for obvious reasons!”

This means her years of work, pushing for this issue to be addressed is closer to seeing standardised mobility parking become a matter of law with a heftier fine.

The next steps for making mobility parking enforceable will be going through consultation, ironing out the fine details.

“At the end of that, the amount of the fine will be written into law – and I’ve asked for it to be linked to the CPI [Consumer Price Index] so that it keeps in place with inflation.

“It will then have to go through three readings at Parliament before it gets passed.”

Claire says a $500 fine for misuse of mobility carparks will be a reality in the near future.

“My hunch is that National will make these changes in two-and-a-half years, not long before the next election, but change will happen.”

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