by Brooke Haffenden
FORMER Whittlesea councillor Christine Stow has called out Mayor Kris Pavlidis for parking in a designated disabled space while attending the launch of a café for people with intellectual disabilities.
On Friday, November 17 Cr Pavlidis was directed to park in the spot by staff at Yarra Plenty Regional Library when she arrived for the launch of Chancez Café at Mill Park Library.
As a mother of a disabled daughter, Ms Stow said she is sickened by the mayor’s actions.
“This makes me feel ill and it is such a slap in the face to me and other carers and people with disabilities,” Ms Stow said.
“With all this talk of equality – we have a long way to go.”
Attending last week’s council meeting, Ms Stow attempted to ask questions regarding the mayor’s behaviour but her request was denied as it was not relevant to the evening’s agenda.
Ms Stow questioned what kind of example the mayor’s actions provide the community and why she parked in the spot when there are plenty of parks across the road or in the street. Ms Stow also asked if there would be any disciplinary action for the mayor.
“As a rate payer and a mother of a child with multiple disabilities, I am saddened, ashamed actually to see the mayor park in a spot saved for those who cannot walk or cannot talk, cannot defend themselves like my daughter,” Ms Stows question to council began.
“It makes me feel sick actually to see in the news the current mayor parking right out the front of the library to launch a cafe at the library- a project that I myself put in the prospectus as Chair of the Disability Cluster.
“I would like the Mayor to answer the question – how is this going to help the disability network improve parking issues if this is the way she behaves?”
In a response from council, seen by the Whittlesea Review, Ms Stow was informed that her question was not answered at the meeting as it was not pertinent to matters listed on the agenda or “a significant strategic or governance matter affecting the City”.
Ms Stow was advised that her question will be referred to council officers who will provide a written response to the issues she raised.
Ms Stow said Cr Pavlidis had spoken of being transparent during her mayoral speech but her actions show poor leadership. She also accused the mayor of hiding and not answering questions.
In a joint statement released last week, Cr Pavlidis and Di Shaw, CEO of Yarra Plenty Regional Library, apologised to the community.
Cr Pavlidis said as someone who is passionate and committed to empowering and supporting people with disabilities she was disappointed that she didn’t follow her instinct not to park where she was directed to.
Both the mayor and Yarra Plenty Regional Library will be donating $200 each to Chancez Café.
At the council meeting on September 19 of this year, Cr Pavlidis moved the Disability Action Plan 2017-2021. During the motion she led a discussion around council’s ability to monitor and respond to incidents of misuse of disabled parking spots.