Don't have a Blue Badge? Then stop using our disabled parking spaces

There can be any number of reasons why people use disabled parking spaces, because there are any number of disabilities – laziness is not one of them

A petition has been formed to force Parliament to address the widespread issue of disabled parking space misuse
A petition has been formed to force Parliament to address the widespread issue of disabled parking space misuse

Every now and then I blow a fuse. I get so fed up I feel I have to challenge the people who park in disabled spaces without having a blue badge. Usually they’ll size me up, realise that I’m on crutches, or using a wheelchair, and decide that being snotty or aggressive towards me will make them look really bad. So they’ll trot out an excuse.

Everyone who illegally parks in disabled bays has one and they’re almost always rubbish. They’ll say there aren’t any other spaces free, even though there almost always are and they’re just too damn lazy to walk to where they can be found. Or they’re really sorry, but they only stopped for a minute, ignoring the fact that most supermarkets have a bay for that purpose. And again, what’s wrong with walking? Or, you know, it’s raining and I might get wet.

Here’s the thing: disabled bays are there for people with disabilities. Perhaps they use a wheelchair and need to be able to wheel alongside the car door. Or maybe they’re like me. I basically get into the car by falling backwards, while using crutches to avoid coming a cropper. It’s not as dramatic as it sounds but I do need the extra space. Perhaps they have a serious medical condition. Or perhaps, because of age or other types of disability, they might use a walking frame.

There can be any number of reasons because there are any number of disabilities. Laziness is not one of them, as a German supermarket once pointed out with a huge sign on display outside its car park. I wanted to cheer when I saw the photo in my inbox.

Our supermarkets, sadly, seem less interested in the purple pound (it’s the equivalent of the pink pound for people with disabilities) than they are in the idle pound or the obnoxious pound, or the braying entitled pound. Why shouldn’t I be able to park where I damn well like? Yes, I’ve heard that one. We all have. Or a derivative of it. And it’s not just at supermarket car parks.

And it’s not always just people I’d use a four letter word to describe.

Sadly, even organisations that I would usually happily endorse sometimes plonk their vehicles across disabled bays (and sometimes three or four of them at once) because, well, ours is a really worthy endeavour and we won’t be here long. It’s only for a morning, see, and there are plenty of disabled spaces here.

Until there aren’t.

There seems to be a widespread lack of understanding of why disabled spaces are needed by the people they are intended for and an almost complete lack of empathy.

I’m no cheerleader for Jeremy Corbyn but he made a rather good point during the debate over disability benefit cuts that ultimately led to a Government U-turn. I know, I know, it seems a century ago.

He pointed out that people are “only a car crash away” from knowing exactly how it feels to be disabled in modern Britain. It wasn’t a car crash in my case, but it was a road accident, so it made me shudder a bit when he said it.

I’ve read us described as the largest minority anyone can join at any moment.

These days it’s normally my wife who gets angry. I’m getting too tired to fight. There’s a weary inevitability to seeing that huge BMW in the bay closest to the supermarket because the owner says he doesn’t want it to get scratched, the poor lamb, and he can’t be bothered to park it around the back of the store where there’s usually a lot of space.

That’s the point about disability. It’s exhausting.

But people are trying to do something constructive about the situation. Chris Welch, founder of the aptly named “Want My Space? Take My Disability” Facebook group, has put up a petition that calls for the end of disabled bay abuse, and for stronger enforcement, and for MPs to debate it when they’ve finished destroying the country (that last bit was my contribution).

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