By Charlene Gatt
HEARTLESS drivers have forked out more than $230,000 in fines for parking in disabled spots across the municipality over the last two years.
An exclusive Star investigation has revealed 1043 fines were issued by Maribyrnong City Council in 2011 for motorists ignoring disabled parking signs, while 865 motorists were caught in 2011.
Motorists were slugged $122 per offence.
The council caught more drivers illegally parked in a disabled space than in any other municipality across the West.
Over in Brimbank, 809 fines were handed out; in Wyndham, there was 309; and in Hobsons Bay, 281 offences were detected.
Maribyrnong’s Parking and Local Laws manager Paul McKeon said motorists who illegally parked in disabled parking bays took away a valuable support service offered to community members who needed additional parking assistance.
“Disabled parking bays are located in key areas across the city to assist those who may not be able to access facilities or businesses in the area if they relied on general parking bays,” Mr McKeon said.
“The council actively prosecutes motorists who illegally park in disabled bays to ensure the bays can be used by those who need them the most.”
Jennifer Fitzgerald from Scope, which provides disability services throughout Victoria to thousands of children and adults, agreed.
“For people with a disability to enjoy the same access to all that Australian life has to offer, our communities need to be both welcoming and inclusive.
“Too frequently people with a disability find it difficult to find parking, as members of the community are misusing the accessible spots.
“It is really important that people with a disability who need to use accessible car parking spaces can, and that they are not being misused by other members of the community.
“It is essential for our community to understand that misusing accessible spots limits access to our community for people with a disability”.
There are two types of disabled parking permits in Victoria.
Category one permits can be used to parking in a disabled parking bay for the time period on the parking sign, and in other parking bays for twice the time on the parking sign. Category two permits can be used to park in any parking bay, except for disabled, for twice the time displayed on the parking sign.
By Charlene Gatt