Giving birth is no parking ticket excuse

Even if you're in a hurry to help your partner while she's in labour - remember to park the car properly, or don't expect to get off your parking ticket in Dunedin. Photo / Thinkstock
Even if you're in a hurry to help your partner while she's in labour - remember to park the car properly, or don't expect to get off your parking ticket in Dunedin. Photo / Thinkstock

The Dunedin City Council is taking a tougher stance over waiving parking tickets for maternity patients, a move which has upset some Dunedin midwives.

The council sent a letter to Queen Mary Hospital in March saying it would no longer accept letters of explanation from anyone other than the driver or registered owner of the vehicle.

The council would also waive infringements in only what it thought were "medical emergencies".

The letter responded to correspondence from maternity patients at Queen Mary Hospital regarding infringement notices.

Dunedin midwife Maureen Donnelly said she was not concerned midwives could no longer write to the council for their clients, but was worried about the council's definition of a "medical emergency".

"It used to be that when women were in active labour and it was inappropriate for their partner or support person to move their car, midwives could write in and the DCC would waive the ticket.

"Coming in and having a baby, once you get in there it's pretty full-on. The last thing you are thinking about is a parking meter."

Council customer services agency manager Adrian Blair said there had been some "tightening" up in terms of specific cases but there was not a general policy in place.

"Each application for a waiver of a parking ticket has got to be considered on its merits. I think there is an expectation from some people that because they have a letter from their midwife, that's as good as getting off."

The decision to waive a ticket came down to if the situation was an emergency, he said.

"If you went to the hospital for one to two hours and something happened when you were there and you ended up being there overnight, that would be an emergency.

"But if you were fronting up with an appointment with your midwife and it took longer than you thought it would, then it's not necessarily an emergency."

Ms Donnelly said she had a client who was taken into theatre after giving birth, but still received a $40 parking ticket.

Another Dunedin midwife, who did not want to be named, said the council refused to waive a ticket for one of her clients who had gone into labour on the footpath and her partner had parked their car facing the wrong way.

Mr Blair said he could not comment on specific cases, but said if that was the case he would be surprised if the couple concerned did not have their ticket waived.

"I think 'what is an emergency' is something that needs to be looked at. If it really is an emergency we aren't going to quibble over a parking ticket. But I think sometimes people see a routine appointment that has gone for a bit longer as an emergency."

Ms Donnelly said she always encouraged clients to move their car if they could, but often that was not possible.

"From my point of view, it's pretty rotten, because a lot of families don't have a lot of money.

"They are going home with this new Dunedin citizen and a $40 parking ticket. It's not really a good welcome to a new Dunedin citizen," Ms Donnelly said.

- Otago Daily Times

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 02 Sep 2014 10:09:06 Processing Time: 204ms