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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 August 2007, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Anger over disabled parking abuse
Disabled parking space
Supermarket car parks should be policed more stringently, say carers
Carers across north Wales have voiced frustration at motorists parking in spaces reserved for disabled drivers.

Members of a support group in Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey say a minority who do not hold the blue disabled badges are causing stress and difficulties.

They said private firm like supermarkets and councils needed to act, and one campaigner wanted barriers to protect disabled parking bays.

Gwynedd Council said it had tackled the problem but there was still much to do.

If an able-bodied person parks in a space for disabled people on a public highway or local authority land that is patrolled by wardens, they are breaking the law and could face a 1,000 fine.

I feel very frustrated when I see people coming out on occasions bouncing with health, not a limp or any other disability in sight
Vera Wilson, carer

But if the land is private, as with supermarkets or shopping centres, these traffic laws do not apply.

The Disability Discrimination Act says that these parking bays should be policed and failure to do so could be a breach of the act.

Will Bee, the Disability Rights Commission's director for Wales, said people could technically take civil action against supermarkets for failing to police their bays, although there is no precedent for this.

Disabled rights campaigner and carer Vin West said the majority of wheelchair users and their carers were older people and if they could not park near enough to get their shopping it could become a major problem.

Criminal record

"It is a really low form of life that would take away a parking space from a couple like that," he said.

Mr West told BBC Radio Wales that research showed "a very high proportion of blue bay space abusers actually have a criminal record" and warned people against confronting them in person.

He wanted supermarkets to install drop-down barriers around their disabled parking bays which could only be opened by smart cards owned by disabled blue badge holders.

Vera Wilson, who lives on the banks of the Menai Strait and cares for her wheelchair user husband Pat, called on businesses and offices to police their car parks more stringently.

Example of a blue badge permit
I think generally speaking, people do take notice of parking signs and in particular signs relative to disabled parking bays
Colin Jones, Gwynedd Council

She said they were regularly unable to find a free disabled parking bay on trips into the centre of Bangor or Menai Bridge.

"I feel very frustrated when I see people coming out on occasions bouncing with health, not a limp or any other disability in sight. It does make you feel like screaming," she said.

"When people are coming home from work, they are tempted to think 'well, we are only going to be a few minutes'.

"But when you go into a supermarket usually the time you spend in there is something above 10 minutes so it's not a quick in and out, as people think they are doing."

Mrs Wilson said that when non blue-badge holders parked in disabled bays it was not only hard on the disabled person but also on their carers.

She said: "People like myself who are looking after a disabled person 24-7 do not have to go looking for their problems, they have already got enough and these people are adding on more through absolute selfishness."

Colin Jones, Gwynedd Council's parking manager said the council had been able to tackle the problem recently but there was "still plenty to do".

"I think generally speaking, people do take notice of parking signs and in particular signs relative to disabled parking bays," he said.

"However, having said that there is clearly a problem because we are constantly seeing parking fines coming in from our attendants which relates to misuse of our parking bays."


SEE ALSO
Disabled man's anger at ticket
04 Jan 06 |  North West Wales
Corwen parking charges dropped
28 Jun 06 |  North East Wales
Charity tells of city parking woe
09 Jul 07 |  Leicestershire
No traffic wardens out on patrol
09 Aug 05 |  North West Wales

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