Elderly people who play indoor bowls or cards at Orewa Community Hall each week will suffer as a result of Auckland Transport’s refusal to continue providing a parking exemption.
More than 50 people come to the hall twice a week to enjoy activities put on by the Hibiscus Coast Senior Citizens Association and many get there by car.
Since the end of 2011, Auckland Transport (AT) has provided the group with 30 parking permits so they can park in P120 spaces near the hall but these will expire at the end of this month as part of AT’s aim to create consistency throughout Auckland via its Parking Strategy.
Despite the protestations of the Association, AT has refused to make an exception to its Parking Strategy. The strategy addresses Auckland-wide parking issues, and AT parking services manager, John Strawbridge, describes its permit policy as “consistent and fair for all road users region-wide”.
AT spokesperson Mark Hannan says the policy was “designed to ensure parking is available for all members of the public and that permits are allocated for critical services only, in a fair manner based on strict criteria”.
In July, AT extended the permits to September 30, “to allow additional time to seek alternative parking options”.
Hibiscus Coast Senior Citizens Assn secretary Mike Duggan says there are no alternatives apart from shifting cars within the P120 time frame, or getting a fine.
His organisation has around 200 elderly members and has been using the hall for 50 years, booking it every Tuesday and Thursday for a four-hour period.
“Many of our members carry some disability and it’s not easy for them to dash out, particularly in rainy weather, to re-park,” he says. “We are the only ones who need the passes and think that an exception could surely be made? Is it too much to ask AT to be flexible and allow long time users of public facilities to park close by?”
Association committee member Stan Way from Orewa says it takes him around 15-20 minutes to walk to the hall to play bowls each week. When the weather’s bad he may have to stay at home if the parking permits are removed but he is more concerned about the effect on people with poor mobility – many use walking frames.
Stan says he got a $40 fine once when parking inspectors didn’t see the permit on his windscreen but AT let him off after he wrote in. “Soon I won’t have that option,” he says.