A serious breach of disabled parking regulations by a Southwark parking attendant has resulted in an official council apology this week.
The attendant was photographed last Thursday illegally using a disabled parking bay at Blue Market, Bermondsey. Representatives from local disabled organisations said this demonstrated blatant disregard for disabled people’s needs.
Jeff Hook, Southwark executive member for Environment and Transport, apologized and promised to “re-train this particular Civil Enforcement Officer up to the standards of driving and parking required, to ensure that this does not happen again.”
The council’s parking contractor donated £60 to the Disabled Living Foundation – an amount equal to the fine that the vehicle would have incurred.
Only two months ago, police issued a similar apology after a police van was found parked in a disabled space on Old Kent Road.
Patrick Horan of Southwark Disablement Association said apologies were not enough: “For two different official organisations to be found abusing spaces is unacceptable. It’s a big problem; people misuse the spaces because it is convenient.” Horan said that tougher regulations were needed, especially in private car parks.
He also warned: “Everyone has a camera on their mobile phone these days and can take pictures so people can be caught easily.”
In March, ASDA became the first retailer to fine drivers for the misuse of disabled bays in all its car parks, stating that the measure followed “exhaustive attempts to tackle the problem constructively in the past.”
The supermarket fines drivers £60 for misusing the bays and the average number of fines is two tickets per store per day. ASDA is still the only supermarket to do this.
In 2006-2007, Southwark parking officials issued 2,899 tickets for vehicles wrongfully parked in disabled bays. Horan said: “In some car parks announcements are made on the PA system asking people not to park in disabled bays but that doesn’t do much. They need to clamp cars and people would soon get the message.”
Julie Newman of the British Council of Disabled People said this incident “really diminishes the value of the spaces for those who use them.”