Harpenden disabled parking bays being misused

ABLE-BODIED drivers are abusing disabled parking spaces to dash into shops along Harpenden Lower High Street, a local disability group has claimed.

The “selfish” able-bodied drivers use so-called Blue Badge parking spaces because of their location close to amenities such as cash machines and shops.

But by leaving their vehicles in such spaces, even if only for a few minutes, drivers are inconveniencing disabled drivers, whose limited mobility often means they do not have the option of parking further away.

Disability campaigner Robert Hill said he frequently witnessed such improper parking.

Mr Hill, Chairman of St Albans District Access Group and a Harpenden resident, added: “The needs of such selfish people clearly trump the necessity for disabled people to park as close as possible to the shops and services they depend on.”

He also noted inappropriate parking was worse on Sundays and weekday evenings when parking restrictions were not enforced.

But he said it was not uncommon for it to happen even when the restrictions were supposed to be under active enforcement.

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One weekday morning he said he noticed a small car, with no Blue Badge on display, parked across two designated disabled spaces on Lower High Street, Harpenden, for two hours without any sign of enforcement officers.

Criticising the council’s relaxed attitude to ensuring Blue Badge spaces were adequately marked, Mr Hill admitted some able-bodied drivers might not realise where they were parking.

He said: “If they are Blue Badge spaces, why are they not blue?”

“At stations and supermarkets the [disabled] spaces are very clear, but you go round the public highways and it’s much more obscure.”

Mike Lovelady, St Albans council’s head of legal services, said: “These spaces are reserved for Blue Badge holders so that people with disabilities can park close to shops and facilities.

“People who park there illegally are stopping them doing so and doing them a disservice.

“Our parking attendants take action if they spot such behaviour but we are not able to have officers patrolling at all times of the day and night.

“It’s up to all of us to behave responsibly.”

He added the council had plans to renew the lines which marked the Blue Badge bays and would look at bay signage to ensure it was “sufficiently clear to discourage inappropriate parking.”