PARKING TICKET: Dawn Eastwell has  had her disability permit for 15 years and she has never had an issue.
PARKING TICKET: Dawn Eastwell has had her disability permit for 15 years and she has never had an issue. Jacob Miley

Disabled woman fined for taking too long with her shopping

FOR 15 years Dawn Eastwell has held a disability permit and not once in that time had an issue.

That is until now, when she encountered two issues within a month.

Mrs Eastwell, who suffers from a heart condition and has artificial knees, forgot her permit one day while at the shopping centre after taking her daughter's car.

She was fined $70, but took it to Centre Management and explained the situation.

Centre Management waived the fine after Mrs Eastwell displayed her permit.

Later that same day, she decided to do her usual shopping while she was already there and when she returned to her car, that was now displaying the correct permit, she found a $77 fine for outstaying the three-hour parking.

The 79-year-old said she was disappointed she was fined, despite Mt Pleasant Shopping Centre parking stating "any vehicle displaying a valid disability permit can park in any car park as long as required".

"I was very annoyed actually," she said "I thought I was doing the right thing.

"I never ever think, 'Oh, I better get back to my car', I never think that at all.

"I can stay here until I finish my shopping."

She understood the reason why the centre does have three-hour limits, to stop people from abusing the car park, but said it was very difficult to do shopping in that time, particularly for elderly people who suffer from medical conditions.

Mrs Eastwell said there needed to be better clarification over the signs at the disability parking.

At privately-owned shopping centres, disability parking is monitored by the centre's security staff on behalf of council.

The Mackay Regional Council was advised of the situation and said it would look into the matter and review signage if necessary.

In response to the parking fine over the three-hour limit, a spokesperson for Vicinity Centres, which runs Mt Pleasant, said they were aware of the the fine due to the absence of permit, but didn't comment on the other fine.

"We are aware of this situation with our customer and immediately waived the breach once we knew that she had a valid disability permit," they said.

"Parking inspectors are trained to look for valid permits but unfortunately on this occasion the permit was out of sight from outside the vehicle.

"The customer came to see us at Centre Management and explained the situation to us, and we immediately arranged for the breach to be waived.

"This was an unfortunate situation and out of our hands, and we are sorry that the customer needed to come see us to explain."