By GEMMA BILLINGTON
Stanmore resident Dr. John O’Brien had his mobility parking space revoked after a complaint was made about the space being unoccupied. O’Brien hadn’t owned a car since his accident in February but needed the space for transport services.
Greens councillor Louise Steer tabled a motion in April noting the importance of reinstating O’Brien’s mobility parking space to make room for friends and transport vehicles arranged by aged care services.
O’Brien said, “[…] mobility spaces are not just for residents to park in, because there are a lot of aged and disabled residents who don’t drive but they do have transport services as I do.”
The confusion stems from the misconception that Transport for NSW requires an applicant to possess a car to receive a mobility parking permit. In reality, any resident is eligible to qualify for the mobility parking scheme if they are unable to walk, require a form of mobility aid or have difficulty walking 100 metres.
Steer said mobility and disability is commonly misunderstood by council and the community.
“[O’Brien] was able to get a disability parking space outside his house and then a neighbour, who was able bodied, coveted the space for their own car, complained to the council and on the basis of that one complaint, the traffic committee recommended that the car space should be taken away,” said Steer.
Problematic street parking
Long term residents of Sydney’s Inner West have witnessed first-hand the continued growth and development of the area. The mission to find accessible street parking is nearing impossible, especially for the ageing and disabled population.
While the development of the Inner West has been synonymous with a spike in population, Steer and O’Brien are hopeful that measures are enacted to ensure that the ageing and disabled community won’t be left behind.
“We need to be able to treat people fairly and unless people have access to go out, to their medical appointments, to see their friends, then they are not being treated fairly or treated equally. They’re being forced to become housebound,” said Steer.
Dr. O’Brien was able to get his space back in a council decision passed 14 to 1. He hopes that the case will set a precedent for other residents who may be unable or unwilling to drive a car.