Tuesday, January 31, 2006



'You're being watched' was the warning - but not enough action has been taken to stop the abuse of the parking permits for disabled parking.

In response to growing concern and anger over the evident rorting of the disability parking concession system, Liberal City of Sydney Councillor Shayne Mallard has proposed an overhaul of the permit system to include tighter parking controls, higher fines for abuse of the system and more accessible taxi and community transport schemes.

Councillor Mallard's goal is to restore the community's faith in the disability parking scheme, protect genuine beneficiaries of the system and to recover potential lost parking fee revenue which should be channelled to much needed improved CBD disability amenities and infrastructure such as street ramps and stairway lifts.

"The State government and City must overhaul its parking permit regulations, they are failing all concerned including workers and visitors who are forced to compete for fewer spots, the Council is losing revenue and people with disabilities are no better off with the abuse of their system." said Clr Mallard.

Councillor Mallard proposed not only an increase of penalties but a cap on the unlimited time parking feature of disabled permits ; "instead of unlimited time at a meter of restricted parking space, it should be capped to a maximum time of four hours free parking. Most carers and people with disabilities should be able to attend to their business within that time frame."

Councillor Mallard pointed out that a subsidised taxi fare scheme is available to most people with disabilities. "Perhaps the subsidy for taxi fares or a new Council operated community transport scheme needs to be looked into," Mallard suggested.

Shayne Mallard acknowledged the potential loss of revenue for the Council by people abusing the parking privileges. "It certainly suggests that possibly many thousands or even millions of dollars are being lost here as well as the equitable rotation and sharing of parking spaces in support of businesses."

If implemented Shayne Mallard proposes that the parking meter revenue recovered should be channelled into further infrastructure and services for the disabled . "The City has a long way to go in providing safe level pedestrian paths and corner ramps suitable for people with disabilities. The revenue could be earmarked for improvements to disability infrastructure in the City and not just disappear into general Council revenues."

"If as suggested up to 50% of parking spots are taken up by cars with apparent abused disabled stickers then the RTA needs to be more diligent in handing out such free passes as well."

Councillor Mallard emphasised that any urgent reform to the system must be undertaken in full consultation with disability groups and other stakeholders including carers and the medical profession.

"A 'blitz' on abuse may help, but in the longer term there are some simple changes we can make to reach a fairer system for all concerned , particularly those with a real need for disability parking and importantly restore community confidence in the scheme," Mallard concluded.

Councillor Shayne Mallard

Warning, you're being watched
By Matthew Moore

January 31, 2006

TAKE a walk through any street in Sydney where there are parking meters and you can expect to find more than 50 per cent of cars with mobility stickers stuck to their windscreens.
The stickers allow all-day free parking in disabled spaces, as well as any metered area where parking for an hour or more is permitted. Of course, they are only supposed to be used when transporting a person with a disability.

The Herald was flooded with complaints of able-bodied people abusing the scheme after an article was published on Saturday highlighting the problem on one city block in Kent Street.
In the same block, between Market and King streets, it was business as usual yesterday with 15 out of 33 cars displaying the mobility parking tags and avoiding the need to pay.
The manager of one building in the street, who has asked not to be named, said he had noticed a steady increase in the number of cars using the stickers in recent years.
"They are mainly professional people. They are rorting this scheme for the handicapped and depriving the ratepayers of hard-to-get revenue," he said.
"They come in the morning and they don't move all day. It leaves a sour taste in your mouth to see people exploiting the system."
Further up Kent Street in the block north of Margaret Street, nine out of 14 cars were using the stickers at midday.
Around the corner in Napoleon Street, nine out of 19 cars had the park-anywhere-for-free stickers, including a Mitsubishi with a new permit that lasts until 2009.
If the City of Sydney Council is worried about loss of revenue resulting from the scheme's abuse, it is not saying. It made $16.5 million from its parking meters last year by charging $4.40 an hour during business hours, but a council spokesman, Josh Mackenzie, declined to estimate how much revenue might be forgone each day.
One reader, Gordon Pelletier of Cremorne, said: "Go to Paddy's Market, particularly on a Saturday after 7am, to see street after street packed with cars showing disabled stickers. Most of the drivers appear to be able-bodied vendors at the markets who rely on their disabled stickers to park all day for free while they make money selling at the markets."
Ian Muir, of Lavender Bay, said: "On any given weekday in business hours, up to half the cars parked here have disability permits to the point where genuine locals and their visitors are being denied parking."
Roads in Bondi, Chatswood, Ultimo, Haberfield and any street near a university were also nominated by readers as areas in which the scheme's systemic abuse was obvious.
But despite the anger, there is no agreement on how the abuse might be reduced. John Moxon, the vice-president of the Physical Disability Council of NSW, said the Roads and Traffic Authority had invited his group to a forum on the scheme when the Herald began making inquiries about it.
Mr Moxon said that while he was concerned about the scheme's abuse, he thought the only way to reduce it would be to carry out an occasional blitz that caught out people misusing the disabled-parking tags.


Anonymous said...

the city needs to police this new policy and make an example of the law breakers involved here. They are victimising the rest of the commuters by taking up spots

Anonymous said...

Have a look in Amy st and Knight st Erskineville at the people with disabled stickers - one doesn't even have a car!! The other is VERY able bodies. It stinks