Saturday, 20 October 2012

Welcome commitment to improve disabled parking at Gallagher Retail Park

I have welcomed a commitment on the part of the car park operators at the city’s Gallagher Retail Park (see right) to improve parking for people with disabilities.

This follows a West End constituent who contacted me recently regarding the issue.   The constituent, who suffers from significant physical disability, wrote :

“Dear Councillor Macpherson

I visited Marks & Spencer at Gallagher Park, Dundee today.  I was impressed by the number of disabled parking spaces available at the park outside each of the shops.  I parked in a disabled bay outside Marks & Spencer and my understanding is that, unlike council owned car parks, cars displaying a Blue Badge are still required to display a parking ticket. The first 2 hours are free but still require a parking ticket to be displayed.

I have an electric wheelchair and drive my own accessible vehicle. I was disappointed therefore to find that the of the three nearest parking ticket machines, none was wheelchair accessible. The nearest one (near the boundary of the car park where the new swimming pool/multi-story car park is being built) is situated behind a row of car parking spaces which were full with parked cars which I was unable to get past. I then tried the next one but it is turned facing away from the roadway and again can only be accessed by someone on foot.  The third one (which backs onto the access road into Gallagher Park) faces the roadway but the button is high and difficult to reach from a sitting position.  A lady kindly pressed the button for me!

I would be grateful if you would contact Gallagher Park owners and point out the following:

1) For wheelchair users their ticket dispensing machines are not accessible due to their situations.

2) Having to go round the car park in a wheelchair looking for an accessible machine is somewhat dangerous as there are many blind corners and car drivers do not expect to turn the corner and expect to meet someone on the roadway in a wheelchair.

3) The design of their machines should be such that the button is within reach of a wheelchair user.

4) Consideration should be given to ambulant disabled people who are able to walk the short distance from a disabled bay into a nearby shop but find they first have to walk a not inconsiderable distance to a ticket machine and back to their car first. For many ambulant disabled people this is very difficult if not impossible.

I would suggest there is an easy answer to this situation. Either the owners of Gallagher Park dispense with the requirement for cars displaying a Blue Badge to also display a parking ticket or accessible parking meters be installed near the disabled bays outside the shops.”

I took up the issue with Cordatus, the asset managers of Gallagher Retail Park car park on behalf of the current owners JP Morgan (Gallagher UK sold the car park in 2008) and have now been advised by John Stuart, a representative of JP Morgan Asset Management :

“Paul Blyth of Cordatus who are responsible for the oversight of management matters on this park has, I know, been in touch to confirm that he and we will review the position with the company appointed to implement the parking controls on site.

The points raised by your constituent are noted and recognised as being well made.  You may, therefore, be assured that we will address the issue with a view to ensuring improved ease of use by wheelchair users.

Our only concern is that we should not create circumstances which might permit a recurrence of the abuse previously experienced from those working in the city centre, who have over the past few years been using the facility on a day long basis. I am sure that that can be avoided in whatever change might be made.”

The retail park owners and managing agents have responded very promptly to what was a very reasonable point by my West End constituent.    I think his point about either dispensing with the requirement for cars displaying a Blue Badge to also display a parking ticket or accessible parking meters be installed near the disabled bays outside the shops would be a sensible way forward.   

It is important that people with mobility difficulties visiting the retail park can park easily and I look forward to seeing the situation improve in the near future.