Boss unloads on rights group

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Disabled access campaigners were told to be “a bit more understanding of others” – after complaining about a business parking in mobility parks.

Wakatipu Access Group (WAG) complained to The Building Hub (THB) about staff repeatedly parking in a mobility space in Arrowtown.

But Wellington-based THB founder and director Jodie Youmans wasn’t having it.

In an emailed response, which Mountain Scene has obtained, she told WAG “maybe being a bit more understanding of others and what they need to get done as well would make things a little more pleasant for everyone”.

WAG’s Anna Jameson says that shows “a lack of respect and understanding for both the law, and the rights of disabled people”.

But THB doubled down when contacted by the Scenethis week – saying staff were unloading a vehicle for a roadshow in the community hall and someone was in the car, able to move it at all times.

“As soon as a park became available the car was moved into it and the unpacking continued which is when the driver was approached by an angry man,” THB said in a statement.

“The driver felt quite intimidated by his attitude and aggression.”

The statement said there “simply was no other way it could be done so a person stayed in the car to move the car if the space was required”.

“Yes, we understand that it is difficult for a person with mobility issues to pull up alongside and explain they need the space, but it was obvious we were unloading the vehicle for the venue.”

Figures show 729 drivers have been ticketed in mobility parks in the district since July 1 last year.

Jameson, who uses crutches and a wheelchair, has had to return home during outings more than once because she can’t get a suitable park.

“It’s actually thoughtless, and really, really limiting.”

She adds: “When I see young people using mobility parks at New World and they’re coming out with their beer, it’s really frustrating.”

She’s calling for more mobility parks in Queenstown’s CBD – and for the council to consider those for whom public transport isn’t really an option.

The group has been invited to participate in the council’s parking planning, which they’ll do.

CCS Disability national access manager BJ Clark also didn’t hold back.

“Frankly, it’s a damn selfish attitude.

“I’m 100 per cent behind the council issuing all the tickets.”

Council transport strategy boss Tony Pickard says growth has created additional demand.

“Increasing the number of mobility spaces within the town centre will be considered as part of an overall parking strategy.”

The strategy is expected to be completed by the end of the year, after consultation.

Pickard says the public buses are “all accessible but we acknowledge that they will not be a travel solution for everyone”.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz