Lack of free parking for clients at MSD centre

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Call for change . . . Dunedin pensioner Rob Donaldson wants a bus stop in Water St to be changed to free parking for Ministry of Social Development clients. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Free parking should be available for clients visiting the new Ministry of Social Development service centre in central Dunedin, a pensioner says.

Rob Donaldson, of Tainui, wants free parking for clients visiting the service centre in John Wickliffe House, in the Exchange.

“It’s disgraceful,” Mr Donaldson said.

“When you’re going to an appointment you shouldn’t have to be paying for your damn car parking.”

Free parking was available at the service centres in Mosgiel and South Dunedin and it had been free at the former service centre in St Andrew St.

Mr Donaldson could not remember a time when a client had to pay for car parking when visiting a service centre in Dunedin.

The centre moved because the St Andrew St site will be required for the Dunedin Hospital rebuild.

Clients should not be penalised financially for a centre shifting, he said.

“It’s not the clients’ fault.”

He knew of pensioners parking “way up High St” to access the centre, he said.

Many clients did not have the money to pay for parking.

Often meetings in service centres went longer than expected, so clients would be in danger of getting parking tickets.

Mr Donaldson wanted a bus stop in Water St to be transformed to free parking for clients visiting the centre.

“I don’t think it’s used that often.”

A tradesman working on the centre refit, who asked not to be named, said it was a “struggle” to find a car park in the area.

He had never seen a bus use the stop in Water St but if it was made into car parks it would be difficult to ensure they were used only by centre clients, he said.

A Dunedin City Council spokeswoman said the council was aware of the concerns around parking in this area.

The ministry and council were working together to identify parking solutions and options for their clients.

“The council will be considering parking options for the area at a council meeting before the end of the financial year.”

Ministry southern regional commissioner Jason Tibble said feedback from its clients since the new site had opened had been favourable.

“We do appreciate parking in a busy business area in any city can be challenging for people and are taking Rob’s concerns on board.”

As part of finding a suitable centre location, a survey revealed the top priority of its clients was a central location with reasonable parking options, close to buses, he said.

The ministry needed a large office space to accommodate its clients and team, he said.

“There weren’t many suitable buildings available that met our needs but after carefully considering what was available, we decided John Wickliffe House would best suit our requirements.”