With many people choosing to park in a mobility parking spot without displaying the proper permit, disabled people are disadvantaged from driving. However, Countdown supermarkets across Dunedin are hoping to end the cycle of disability park thieves through the launch of their new app.

The app, CCS Disability Action’s Access Aware, has been trialled at several Countdown stores for three months. The stores include, Dunedin Central, Dunedin South, Mailer Street and Andersons Bay, and is now extending the trial to another seven stores including Bureta Park, Mt Eden, Greenlane, Point Chevalier, Papakura, Hawera and Mangere East.

People can use the app to report vehicles parked in mobility spaces without permits in real-time. When someone makes a report, Countdown staff will announce it over the loudspeaker and ask the owner to move their car.

“Having mobility car parks as close to our store entrance as possible is incredibly important for any of our customers with mobility needs,” explained Countdown general manager, Kiri Hannifin. “While the vast majority of New Zealanders are respectful of ensuring mobility parks are available for customers with the right permits, introducing the Access Aware app is an opportunity to reiterate that these car parks are there for a purpose.”

Between 2015 and 2017 there were 9820 fines issued to people for parking in disability spaces without the proper permits.

“It’s really important to us that all New Zealanders feel welcome when they shop with us and we’re proud to have worked alongside Be Accessible to help guide us to make our store more user-friendly. We’ll now be taking these learnings to our future store designs,” said access co-ordinator for CCS Disability Action, Raewyn Hailes.