Volunteer fined for delay

A LONG-serving community volunteer has been left upset by a $70 parking infringement fine for being 14 minutes late after she was delayed handing over duties to a fellow volunteer.

Morwell resident Kath Peruzzi, who is a refreshment volunteer at the Traralgon Blood Donor Centre in Seymour Street, said she had written to Latrobe City Council to appeal the fine, but was told her “reason was not good enough”.

“I really believed by saying why I was late, it would have been all well,” Mrs Peruzzi said.

“I realise people can give some pretty lame excuses, but surely they can tell the difference.

“(The appeal process) is all so bureaucratic and so distant from ordinary people; it makes you angry.”

Mrs Peruzzi said she had returned to her vehicle, which was parked in the 2P section of the undercover car park, as soon as she could on 21 November last year, and managed to talk to the parking officer.

She explained the situation to him, but was told he could not do anything about it.

Mrs Peruzzi said she then wrote to council; after some correspondence, was told her objection to the infringement had been rejected.

“(My being late) was not deliberate and I had no idea it would happen,” she told The Express.

“Every year, council thanks volunteers profusely for their time and effort, so to face this situation, (their thanks) just sounds hollow,” Mrs Peruzzi said.

“Latrobe City and governments are always asking members of the community to become involved as volunteers, but if this is how we are treated, I am sure some of us will think twice about giving our time and costs of transportation.”

Mrs Peruzzi said it was not the cost of the fine which concerned her, but the “attitude of bureaucrats in all levels of government who have no understanding or tolerance of the ordinary resident or ratepayer”.

Latrobe City Council general manager community liveability Michael Edgar said once an infringement has been started, officers were not authorised to cancel them.

“Local laws officers understand that people sometimes get held up and inadvertently return to the vehicle after the time limit has expired; in this case there was a 14-minute grace period afforded this driver prior to the infringement being issued,” Mr Edgar said.

“Drivers are required to comply with signed parking restrictions and should be conscious of time limits and potential delays when parking.”

Mr Edgar said examples of exceptional circumstances which could be considered in an application for an internal review included a medical emergency, physical factors and undue obstructions or vehicle breakdowns.

Meanwhile, Australian Red Cross Blood Service donor services manager Maureen Bower said the organisation was disappointed to hear of the incident.

“However, like all the other visits to the heart of Traralgon, we understand the parking restrictions in place,” Ms Bower said.

Acknowledging there were no present arrangements for Blood Service staff and volunteers, unlike donors who had allocated parking, Ms Bower said volunteers were welcome to move their vehicles as required.