Sunday, 6 September 2009

Disabled parking bays

An issue that constituents have brought to my attention recently is an anomoly in Dundee City Council's criteria for the allocation of disabled parking bays that, in my view and the view of the constituents who contacted me, is discriminating against some residents in the city who have mobility difficulties.

The City Council's criteria for allocating disabled parking bays requires the applicant to have both a Blue Badge and to live in a household where there is at least one vehicle registered to someone in the household. The requirement for at least one vehicle to be registered at the home address of the applicant means that a person with mobility problems who lives alone and has had to give up their car due to illness or disability cannot get a disabled bay created near to their home. For two of my elderly constituents in very busy parts of Perth Road and the Corso/Abbotsford area, this makes it very difficult for their carer to park close enough to their home to allow the elderly person to get out of their carer's car within a reasonable distance. This presents real difficulties for these constituents and restricts their ability to get out and about.

At the last City Council's City Development Committee, I proposed :

City Development Committee instructs the Director of City Development to prepare a report to be considered by this committee, the report to outline current policy in terms of the allocation of disabled parking bays in terms of qualifying criteria, and to also consider extending the qualifying criteria to persons with Blue Badges where there is no vehicle registered at their address but that it can be shown to the satisfaction of the authority that a non-resident carer regularly assists the Blue Badge holder with car travel and this necessities parking close to the Blue Badge holder’s residence.

Unfortunately, although I got the support of some opposition councillors, the SNP administration opposed my proposal. The SNP convener's argument was that later this year the Director of City Development will bring forward a report on the implications of the Disabled Persons Parking Places (Scotland) Act 2009. However, this new legislation has nothing to do with the issue I have raised. The Disabled Persons Parking Places (Scotland) Act 2009 will ensure that, from 1st October, it will be against the law to use a disabled parking space unless the car is displaying a blue badge.

I made clear to committee that I was prepared to withdraw my motion if I was given an assurance that the forthcoming report would also tackle the issue I have raised about discrimination against some Blue Badge holders, but the administration seemed unprepared to agree to this.

It is deeply disappointing for the constituents who should be allocated a disabled parking bay but cannot get one due to Dundee City Council's bureaucratic rules that they are not being listened to by the City Council administration. It is important that the council tries to help all citizens with mobility difficulties, not just those with a car owner in their household.