Parking ticket while giving birth 'wrong'

Kerry-Lee Charlton is ''really angry'' the Dunedin City Council will not consider waiving the parking tickets she got while undergoing an emergency Caesarean section. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Kerry-Lee Charlton is ''really angry'' the Dunedin City Council will not consider waiving the parking tickets she got while undergoing an emergency Caesarean section. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A Dunedin mother is angry her car was ticketed while she was undergoing an emergency Caesarean section.

Kerry-Lee Charlton says a Dunedin City Council parking warden put a ticket on her car in January when it was parked outside Dunedin Hospital while she gave birth to her second son.

She wrote to the council asking to have the $70 fines remitted, but was told her ''circumstances do not allow for the fines to be waived'', she said.

She and her partner, Shawn Hurring, arrived at the hospital about 6.30am and parked as close as possible, she said.

At 9am, her partner fed the meter to avoid a ticket, but when it came time to feed the meter again ''things had gone to crap'', she said.

''I ended up having an emergency C-section and there was just no way either of us could get down there and do anything.''

The situation had made her ''really angry and ... it's wrong'', she said.

In 2012, the council decided to set tougher criteria for maternity patients to have parking tickets waived.

Council acting customer services agency manager Brendan Shea said fines could be waived in emergency situations, but matters were dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

He rejected Ms Charlton's claims, said there was no record of payment being made and she was parked in a P30 park for ''half a day''.

''It's such a high-use area and ... to sit on one of those [P30 parks] for half a day, we don't see as reasonable,'' he said.

The area was ''clearly'' marked P30 and could not have been mistaken as any other type of park.

The council's stance might be ''seen as tough and heartless, but it is what it is'', he said.

Had Mr Hurring and Ms Charlton chosen a park other than a P30 and made some payment, then the council would likely waive the fine, he said.

Ms Charlton said she was certain her partner had made some payment, although she was not sure whether the couple parked in a P30 space or not.

She intended to fight the council about the fines because of ''the principle of it''.

Read again

Read all the preceding posts again - others have mentioned the P30 park and the proximity of other parking options (I have no idea myself), the time of the day, the opportunites for the husband to move the car.


Parker Posey

Congratulations to the Charltons on their new arrival. An unusual outcome for the Warden (actually can he just be 'officer'? Wardens run San Quentin). Majority support for bylaws, rules and regulations means we're happy to comply. No more criticism of the System, no more moaning at the bar.

Parking ticket

What do you mean most posts have summed up the main points (meaning your points)?  Plenty have supported this woman.

What a smug, mean-spirited attitude to this pair. Sometimes people have other things on their minds than parking! Not everyone can think straight when going through something like that - and nor should they be judged for putting the birth of a baby before anything else. [Abridged]

It's not rocket science

I think most posts have summed up the relevant points:

- they arrived at 6.30am so must have had a wide choice of parking to use, therefore using a P30 was pretty silly/careless.
- the husband had opportunities to move the vehicle (sounds like they were there for quite a while).

When our child arrived I managed to drive my partner to the hospital, park temporarily near the the main doors and get her inside and taken by staff, go out and park my vehicle in a decent park (I had no idea how long I would be there), and then get back and be with her the whole time. It's not rocket science.

After seeing all these points made by others from the article it seems poor journalism by the ODT - a bit of sensationalism really. Come on ODT, we're better than that in Otago.

Stance summed up brilliantly

Mr Hurring himself says, 'the council's stance might be ''seen as tough and heartless, but it is what it is''.'

Exactly. It is what it is: tough and heartless. Couldn't have put it better myself.

Are parking wardens too tough?

We all know there isn't much parking around the hospital area, midwifes sometimes even mention the parking situation, and many of us have had tickets there. With the amount in her hand I'd say they had been there quite a while, is that the 2-3 days worth (the standard time you have to stay in with a c section). If they wiped these then how many others would they have to wipe, investigate etc. all at the taxpayers' cost. I've been in similar situations and what I tend to do is put as many of those parking dockets on the windscreen as I can.

A C-section doesn't take 6 hours so I'm sure he could have shot down at some point to put some money in. At 6.30 am the parking wardens haven't even started for the day, or the day staff,s o I'm sure he could have got a park right by the door and helped her in. I rember saying to my partner that he needed to put some money in, but that wasnt his main concern, what's a ticket when you're getting a baby, no matter if they come naturally or by C section...rules are rules


The DHB . . .

. . . should build a pay-on-exit car park. For many people visiting the hospital they don't know whether they are going to be 30 minutes or an hour and a-half. The times I am there I don't want that nagging parking ticket issue in my head. I want to listen, and converse with the people I am seeing, whether a specialist or a dying friend. Pay and Display parking is not really compatible with a hospital, and this kind of thing will continue to happen until a different system is put in place.

Parking on a P30 when you are going in to have a baby is just asking for it though.


Both are 'right' and 'wrong'

It's a bit like the Police letting us know, that they would ticket us for doing 5kmph over the 50 speed limit - down from what many unofficially knew used to be 10kmph 'we know you will be breaking the law as usual, but we won't let you do it as much'.

Where should the line get drawn? I firmly believe there is no need for anger over this, from either side. If there had been evidence of paying some money, making an effort, the Council have already said - the fee would have been waived.

How many, if this ticket is let off, will drive to the hospital and simply make no effort to move and cite this case?

Everyone arriving at the hospital, has some degree of emergency or potential trauma going on. So, if we know we have unavoidably broken some laws, we need to know, we are very lucky to have a process we can go through to even ask for the ticket to be waived. As someone with a disability card, even having one of those makes it very hard to get parking close to the hospital.

I have had 2 emergency C sections so I understand the serious nature of the process, let alone even just giving birth. But I am inclined to go with the Council on this one, I'm finding more people demanding and expecting things is disconcerting and not the way for our city in the future.

If the ratepayers were listened to about issues we had been asked about, maybe there would be less of a feeling we have to get angry to be heard in a reasonable way. Btw - to the person complaining about losing parks due to proposed cycle lanes - we need the cycle lanes. A parking building of some sort in the area, may be a solution to consider, as there is majority of time, a shortage of parks. [abridged]

Parking ticket

This is petty bureaucracy at its worst.  For the sake of a $12 fine (or thereabouts), the DCC parking division has made itself look heartless and officious.  You can't put a value on bad PR - and this is what it looks like. If people who are in the midst of a personal crisis such as an emergency Caesarean can't be cut some slack, then who can - and when?  An appalling, mean-spirited policy that needs amending. How inhumane are things going to get just so the income stream doesn't get interrupted?  

Shame on the DCC for being so tight and so uncompromising. A very bad look.  


The DCC appears completely heartless and unwaveringly focused on revenue-gathering. They lack empathy and any shred of common sense by insisting that this parking fine is paid. I encountered a similar situation, when visiting from out of town a couple of years ago. I was similarly stung with a $12 parking fine, when parked over the time I'd paid for on a meter on the street directly outside the hospital.

I wrote a letter requesting a fine waiver because at the time I was visiting a dying relative. What I thought was going to be a short visit to say hello, turned into a very long one as the doctors suddenly proposed the possibility of electing for a high risk surgery or continue on being comfortably medicated until death. This was a highly emotional time for the family, and supporting and comforting my relative logically took over the need to top-up a parking meter. 

I received a similar statement back from the DCC stating "circumstances do not allow for the fines to be waived." I wrote back stating I was unhappy but paid the fine, because I couldn't be bothered engaging in argument over $12. 

I would be interested to hear from the DCC what circumstances allow for fines to be waived? What constitutes an 'emergency'?  Logic has to be applied. Given the circumstances, would any fair-minded road-user begrudge Shawn for parking over the permitted time limit? Of course not. As such the fine should be remitted.

Congratulations to the couple on the birth of their son. [Abridged]






DCC represents ratepayers

DCC is responsible to, and representative of, ratepayers, ie property owners. Tenants are citizens who are not district ratepayers. They may pay through rent, but that goes to landlords, not the council. We have universal franchise and local government is ideally responsible to a community, ratepayers or not. It may just be an argument over language of inclusion. I hope this hasnt made you regret putting the question. It's a long way from the Parkers.

This is ridiculous

This is a ridiculous situation... anybody with a brain knows that a woman can park her car, go inside, have her baby then leave to move her car within 30 minutes...  [abridged]


I'm curious as to why you feel there is a difference between renting, or paying rates directly? I'm not attacking your standpoint, I'm just genuinely curious.

Mortgage + rates = just slightly less than I paid for almost every rental I have had in Dunedin (excluding ones I lived in 10+ years ago, but with inflation adjusted it probably would also be similar). Rent paid never went into the upkeep or maintenance of those properties - almost all of those rentals were in horrible condition, with absolutely minimal repairs, no insulation etc. So as far as I can tell, most renters pay the rates on the property, only included in their rent as opposed to paying the council directly. So I am curious as to why you feel 'direct ratepayers" have an entitlement over others. 

Why women in labour have extra 'rights'

They are doing what men Cannot.

Completely agree

I completely agree Tom H. She should not have any more rights than anyone else.

However, if there is an emergency, whether that is a birth, accident or sickness, we should be able to rush down to the hospital, and park in a convenient location without fear of ridiculous parking fines. 

The fact that there is no long term, public parking anywhere close to the hospital is a joke. I may be wrong, but I think most the parks anywhere near the vicinity of the hospital are the most expensive parks in town, most with an hour parking limit, which is just not realistic if the motorists are at the hospital. Going off my previous experiences of hospitals, your parking limit's up before you have even been seen. 

Could her partner have moved the car? Maybe, but maybe he didn't want to miss the birth of his child. Maybe he was terrified of something going drastically wrong (very common fears, childbirth is scary!). I hate the thought of a new dad losing his partner or child while he was out feeding the meter, or driving round for half an hour looking for a suitable park close enough to "pop out to top up the meter every half hour" 

We need to give our newest citizens a break, not take the opportunity to fine them for arriving inconveniently.


Why didn't her husband move the car?

Sorry, but if he had time to go out at 9 am to feed the meter, why didn't he move the car then? That's what my partner did when I had my first baby and ended up in an emergency Caesar situation.

Parking around the hospital is difficult, the P30 is well signposted and longerterm parking is only a block away ...

Parking fine

$70 would be better spent on baby DCC.   Her partner was probably all over the show and the last thing on his mind was a meter.

No refund or gift if just renting

Unless this new Mum is a ratepayer, there'll be none of that fix it carry on. 'Community' is too close to 'commune'.

Take personal responsibility

There are plenty of parks around the hospital at 6:30 that aren't a P30. If her partner had time to feed the meter, then I am sure he had time to drive the car across the road to the pay and display parking.

And great idea about removing the cycle lane, the hospital won't be so busy if more cyclists die on the road will it! Driving is a privilege, not a right, just like parking your car on public roads.


The principle?

The principle is she has no extra rights than anyone else.

I stand next to you on this

I stand next to you on this for this as it's a Women's and Children's health issue. Not only does it cause unneccessary pain and anxiety but also takes away the unique community feel of support Dunedin has. All they need to do is change the system so people can't abuse it by having a letter to the council from the midwife. Kia kaha!

Let's give our women and children a break! We have ALL been through delivery at some point in our lives.

By the way thanks to Queen Mary and its wonderful staff!

How to fix this

Since the DCC seems incapable of making an intelligent decision here this is how you fix this situation:

Send this poor mother a sincere (if you actually possess this ability) letter apologising for the disgusting way in which she and her partner have been treated by an overzealous department that appears to be completely immune to the way the real world works. Accompany this with a complete waiver of any fines occurred and a gift basket of some description paid for out of Mr Shea's (unnecessary) salary.

As someone whose family has been through the emergency caesarian proceedure twice I can tell you with some degree of certainty that the absolute last thing you are considering is feeding the bloody parking meter. This is exactly why there is a process in place for having these ridiculously expensive infringments removed.

Also as a side note, if parking is so precious around this area that fines for people undergoing emergency surgery will not be revoked then maybe, just maybe, it is an idiotic plan to remove parking for a bleeding cycle lane?! Or does the DCC believe that this lady should have ridden a children's toy to the hospital?

Maternity parking

The action by the Dcc parking is downright disgusting.  These people and the Dcc in general are heartless.  This action is what you would expect from a third world city.  Oops I was forgetting that is what we are, except we are no longer a city but a backwater town. No wonder that Dunedin is dying with the yahoos that are running the town hall.

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