Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

MSPs approve disabled parking law

Disabled parking space
People abusing disabled parking bays could face fines of up to 60

Legislation which will see people fined for wrongly parking in disabled bays has been passed by MSPs.

The Disabled Persons' Parking Places Bill means anyone using designated spaces without a blue badge faces a fine of up to 60.

The plans were brought to the Scottish Parliament by Dumbarton Labour MSP Jackie Baillie.

The move won cross-party support, but some MSPs raised concern about the costs of implementing the legislation.

The change aims to make it easier for councils to designate bays as disabled. Currently, 85% of them are not legally enforceable.

The age of relying on politeness has ended and the age of enforcement has come
Karen Gillon
Labour MSP
The move will also require local authorities to work with the owners and operators of private car parks - such as supermarkets and out of town shopping centres - to negotiate an agreement to make disabled parking places in these car parks enforceable.

Scottish Transport minister Stewart Stevenson said the only deterrent to prevent disabled parking spaces being misused was to make them legally enforceable.

He warned change would not happen overnight, but told MSPs: "This bill will hopefully bring to an end the abuse of disabled parking spaces and bring about a position where it will be seen by the general public as being socially unacceptable to misuse these spaces."

Labour MSP Karen Gillon, standing in for Ms Baillie, said the abuse of parking places was top of the list of what disabled people considered as barriers to getting out and living a life.

"The age of just relying on politeness has ended and the age of enforcement has come," she said.

The Tories' David McLetchie said it was a poor reflection on society that laws were needed to enforce disabled parking rules.

He went on: "Common courtesy and good manners should apply so that we treat people with disabilities with respect and consideration and that parking spaces designated for their exclusive use are not abused by the rest of us."

MSPs heard evidence that the cost of bringing the legislation into force across Scotland, estimated at 1.7m, could cost that for Glasgow and Edinburgh alone.

Lib Dem MSP Jim Tolson also highlighted "wildly varying" estimates of the cost of implementing the plan, adding: "The administrative burden of the bill to local authorities will prove to be significant, especially in the first year."

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