Disabled parking law gets backing
posted on Nov 13, 2008
Proposed legislation which would see people fined for wrongly parking in disabled bays has moved a step closer to becoming law. The plans, brought forward in a bill by Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, were given the go-ahead in principle from Holyrood's Local Government Committee. Currently, 85% of disabled parking bays are not legally enforceable. Ms Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, said the change would make it easier for councils to designate bays as disabled. But despite approving the general principals of her bill, MSPs on the committee questioned the cost and timescale. If given final parliamentary backing, the Disabled Persons' Parking Places Bill would see anyone using a disabled parking place without a blue badge fined up to £60.
The proposals would also require councils to work with the owners and operators of private car parks - such as supermarkets and out of town shopping centres - to negotiate an agreement to make disabled parking places in these car parks enforceable. Convener Duncan McNeil said: "We believe that a year after the act comes into force is adequate time for local authorities to complete an audit of disabled parking bays and the minister should only sanction an extension in exceptional circumstances. "The committee also agrees that the estimate of £1.7m for promotion and implementation is subject to a degree of doubt. "However, if the bill is passed we would expect the Scottish Government and Cosla to negotiate the implementation costs so that local authorities are not unduly burdened." Mr McNeil said the committee had been "alarmed" at the reported level of fraud in the Blue Badge scheme, and called for abuse of the scheme in Scotland to be tackled.
But it also praised the "can do" attitude of the Asda supermarket chain in enforcing parking places, and said this should be adopted elsewhere. MSPs on the committee have heard some concerns from councils about the paperwork, costs and time it would take to implement the new law, but their report concluded that there is a need to clamp down on the abuse of disabled parking spaces. Scottish ministers are currently considering their views on the bill, but have pointed out that existing legislation had "sufficient power" to allow authorities to make special provision for parking for disabled people. A spokesman for Asda said: "Although it is fantastic that Asda has been recognised, it is disappointing that we are alone. "We are gobsmacked that no other retailer has followed our lead despite ASDA launching this initiative nearly a year ago. We have demonstrated that this can work so the question I would ask is why haven't others followed?
"One of the biggest complaints we had from customers was the availability of the disabled and parent and child spaces. "Therefore, in early 2008 we launched in Scotland and the remainder of the UK our parking initiative where we would fine the small minority of people who abused these spaces. "It has been a great success, with up to 60% more availability for these spaces and very positive feedback from our customers."