Council 'failing to beat disabled parking cheats'

Council 'failing to beat disabled parking cheats'

By Amy Westby | 26/11/2010 0 comments

Council 'failing to beat disabled parking cheats'

A DISABLED pensioner has accused the borough council of failing to tackle the real problem when it comes to blue badge fraud.

Over the last year, the council’s parking services team has prosecuted seven people for misuse of blue badges.

A further nine cases are set to go before the court before January with five other investigations on-going.

And next week, wardens will be blitzing several out of town car parks which blue badge holders have identified as hotspots.

What do you think? Is the blue badge blitz effective or worthwhile? Use the "write a comment" button to post your views.

But Arthur Walker (74), of Godric Green, Brinsworth, said that more action needed to be taken in the town centre.

He said: “The council says that they are hell bent on catching these people. If they are they should stand at the bottom of High Street and they’d see the number of people who are misusing badges.

“They park up, jump out and nothing is done about it. It’s quite obvious they are not disabled.

They are all young people who are obviously using their parents’ or relatives’ badges.

“You even get taxis parking in there. There are only about three spaces there anyway but genuine blue badge holders have got no chance.

“If they got a grip on the situation they’d be able to repair all the roads in Rotherham with the money they’d get.”

Mr Walker, who was recently fined for not keeping his badge up to date, said that the badge itself was part of the problem.

He said: “I hadn’t noticed it was one month overdue as I only use it when my son drives me into town.

“I alerted the council immediately but my appeal was turned down.

“At the moment the picture of the owner is on the back of the badge. Surely it would be better to put it on the front to catch people?”

Martin Beard, parking services manager, said that Mr Walker’s case highlighted the need for all blue badge holders to ensure that their badges were up to date and correctly displayed.

He said: “I can reassure Mr Walker that we take any infringement of the blue badge regulations very seriously and contrary to his views, do take action.

“In fact we have successfully prosecuted seven cases this year and there are a further nine due to be heard before the courts.

“Out of the seven prosecutions, one of them actually involved a motorist outside WH Smith, which is patrolled regularly by our civil enforcement officers as part of their town centre duties.

“We target particular areas on a regular basis in response to complaints by legitimate blue badge holders and are currently checking various car parks right across the borough and not just Rotherham town centre.”

People misusing blue badges will be targeted next week as the borough council launches its latest clampdown.

From next Monday, wardens will monitor the car parks at Wath Library, Montgomery Hall, Wath, Warehouse Lane, Wath, Queen Street, Swinton, Church Street, Swinton, and Constable Lane, Dinnington.

Parking tickets will be issued to people who park in a disabled bay without displaying a valid blue badge, park outside the bay markings, park on yellow lines or hatched areas or park in such a way as to cause an obstruction.

Warning signs will be installed at the car parks but parking attendants will take action if they find a vehicle parked illegally.

COMMENT: The Advertiser says.

NOT EVERYONE will be incensed at the sight of able-bodied motorists sweeping into bays reserved for disabled drivers, but their passive acceptance of the practice is as insensitive as the perpetrators are inconsiderate.

But in today’s devil-take-the-hindmost society, disapproving motorists risk verbal or even physical abuse if they challenge those who misuse designated parking areas.

After all, if supermarkets (with the notable exception of Asda), shopping centres, sporting and entertainment venues as well as town centres refuse to police their own parking restrictions, why should offended members of the public risk a backlash by doing the job for them?

Which is why we welcome Rotherham Borough Council’s initiative to target what they describe as “renegade” motorists parking illegally in disabled spaces across the borough. Not before time.

Among the worst offenders seem to be fit young men and women driving expensive cars and likely to be attracted by the bigger spaces allocated to disabled drivers to lessen the risk of the object of their desire being damaged by a carelessly opened door.

But for blue badge holders the wider spaces are necessary to help the disabled manoeuvre from their vehicles into wheelchairs, often, but not exclusively, with the help of carers.

And only those who are disabled or those who care for relatives with mobility problems know at first hand the difference the proximity of disabled parking bays can make for access.

However, while we support the clampdown 100 per cent, we are concerned at reports that parking wardens have been less than sensitive to the frustrations of blue badge holders when the relatively few bays allocated to them in Rotherham town centre have been unavailable.

We support the borough council’s threat to prosecute offending motorists but believe that the clampdown should also be adopted by those who provide disabled parking facilities for their customers, such as supermarkets, shopping centres and entertainment venues.

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