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Laziness is not a disability so stop using it as an excuse to use disabled parking bays, writes Jane Gill

My first born son, Harry, is my little Houdini. Born eight and a half years ago at 24 weeks, he has lived up to his name ever since. I never imagined I would find myself in a situation in which I would need a disabled parking space to be available but I have.

When my younger son started school I did find myself in that precise situation. As I have so far failed to clone myself, I had to arrange for Harry to be picked up from his brother’s school in the mornings. This enabled me to get both boys to school on time. The bus driver would use the conveniently placed disabled parking bay as she had a bus full of disabled children. As there are only two disabled spaces outside the school I parked further away from the school and walked my sons the rest of the way. We had no problem doing so but it was rather galling to find that non disabled parents of non disabled children had the cheek to park in the disabled spaces to drop their children off at school.

It is never acceptable to park in a disabled space without valid reason. It doesn’t matter if you’re only doing it for a few minutes. It’s still wrong. In the end I gave up the battle and asked the driver to pick Harry up from a nearby road. But I shouldn't have had to.

In the year to August 2016, 12 million drivers parked in disabled parking bays without displaying a valid permit. £80 million in fines were issued by councils across the country. I'd like to think the money was put towards services for disabled people. The most common excuse given by offenders was “I was only parked there for a short time so I didn't think it mattered”. Well, here’s a newsflash: it does matter.

How would you feel?

Imagine that you are disabled, or you have a child with a disability, and you go to your local town centre to get a few essential items. You hope to be able to park in the disabled parking bay but when you arrive someone without a blue badge has parked there. You don't know how long they are going to be so you drive on and circle the town to find another disabled space. The bays are all taken by selfish people with no blue badges who “aren't going to be long”. Now answer honestly, would you be infuriated?

Most supermarkets also show complete disinterest in the needs of disabled shoppers. They do have a few disabled parking bays but they show little effort in stopping misuse of them. It is not currently illegal to park in a disabled bay in a supermarket car park but it is extremely selfish. They seem to turn a blind eye when the well-off man parks his shiny Mercedes in the disabled bay outside the supermarket “because he doesn't want to get it scratched”.

I have observed a widespread lack of empathy and understanding of why disabled parking spaces are needed by the people they are intended for. Tougher penalties need to be enforced by the Government to deter selfish people from abusing the blue badge system.

On a more positive note, there are people trying to put a stop to disabled bay abuse. Chris Welch, founder of the “Want my Space? Take my Disability” Facebook group has put up a petition calling for stronger enforcement and for MPs to debate this issue. How about putting points on the driving licences of offenders?

Further information

Jane Gill is a freelance writer who blogs about the challenges faced by families of children with SEN:
www.janegillwriter.com

https://sensandsensabilityblog.wordpress.com


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