River Wissey Lovell Fuller


July 2002

Disabled Parking

Two years ago I was forced to retire prematurely due to ill health brought on by a progressive worsening of multiple sclerosis. My legs in particular are seriously affected such that I have great difficulty walking at all and need to use a wheelchair or an electric buggy for any distance over 25 metres. I can still drive my car and display my blue badge on the windscreen at all times. So imagine my dismay, annoyance and sheer disbelief when I see parking places for disabled people occupied by people who clearly do not qualify to park in these places.

These people fall into 3 categories:

1. Those people displaying a valid blue card and yet the driver and/or passenger are not wheelchair bound and can easily walk or sometimes even jog away from the car. Clearly their disability does not affect their mobility.

2. Those people displaying a valid blue card belonging to a relative of friend who is clearly not a passenger in the car at that time.

3. Those people not displaying any card and totally ignoring the restriction that this parking bay is reserved for disabled drivers.

The people in category 1 are in possession of a card under false pretences and unfortunately medics and social workers seem to be rather soft on people who may need to use a walking stick but have no difficulty walking for half an hour around Tesco carrying the weekly shopping.

The people in Category 2 are abusing the system and should be subject to a warning and /or a fine.

The people in category 3 are inconsiderate selfish parasites on society who would be the first in line to apply for their benefits if anything unpleasant were to befall them.

My wife and I were on the trip to Civray in France last October as part of the 25 year jubilee celebrations of the twinning between Downham Market and Civray and there in a disabled driver car-parking bay was a notice which read :

Just a gentle nudge but at least someone is listening.

I believe that the answer is probably not to car bomb those in category 3 but perhaps to institute a two level system in which an assessment of a person's disability is made specifically relating to mobility. Those people needing a wheelchair need a wide parking bay, those with other disabilities not severely affecting their mobility need parking benefits, but not in those places reserved for wheelchair users. Disabled people are trying to lead as normal a life as possible so flights of steps, narrow pavements and slopes greater than I in 12 are real barriers to achieving this.

On a positive note, there have been improvements over the last few years. Public transport is more accessible but there is still a long way to go. Access to public building is better but access to venues such as the King's Lynn Arts Centre is still a problem. Attitudes are changing, the "Does he take sugar?" syndrome is no longer a problem and disabled people are not just a burden on society but have a contribution to make.

Thank you for loan of your soapbox and well done on your new format for The Pump.

Cliff Gardner

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