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Disabled Parking

Volume 403: debated on Monday 10 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what requirements the Department of Health places on (a) public and (b) private bodies to designate a proportion of parking spaces they provide for disabled only use; and what requirements are placed on such providers to enforce disabled only parking. [101051]

The responsibility for the provision of disabled persons' parking bays on the public highway lies with individual local authorities. They have a wide range of powers available to them to designate parking places for specific users, including bays for use by holders of disabled persons' badges (Blue Badges). The position in private car-parks is different and the conditions of use and provision of parking for disabled people are matters for the individual operators concerned.The allocation of parking spaces for disabled people is the subject of a Departmental Traffic Advisory Leaflet (5/95) which includes guidance on the proportion of spaces that might be appropriate. The decision on exactly how many parking spaces to provide, both on and off street, remains one for individual authorities and operators to determine, depending on local circumstances.However, under Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (when fully implemented) service providers will be required to take reasonable steps to ensure that disabled people do not find it impossible or unreasonably difficult to enjoy the service on the same basis as non-disabled people. This will have implications for local authorities and car park operators, who may have to demonstrate that as well as marking out disabled person's parking spaces, they have taken reasonable steps to ensure they are available to disabled people.

In terms of enforcement of disabled persons' parking bays, there are a wide variety of powers available to local authorities under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to tackle abuse and misuse on-street. For example it is an offence to park a vehicle which is not displaying a badge in a designated disabled persons' parking bay.

Off-street car parks are private property and the conditions of use are a contractual matter between the owner and the motorist. In these car parks, spaces marked for badge holders only are in most cases not legally enforceable, but depend on the courtesy and consideration of other drivers. Car park operators could ask a non-disabled driver to move their car from a space set aside for disabled people but they might not be in a position to insist upon it.

The Department has, however, given its full support to the 'Baywatch' campaign run by a coalition of disability organisations (including the Disabled Drivers Association and the Disabled Drivers' Motor Club). They are committed to encouraging greater protection of disabled persons' parking bays in retail car parks from abuse by non-disabled drivers.

The issue of enforcement was a key part of the major review of the Blue Badge Scheme that we have just completed. Following a public consultation process that ended last year, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), the Department's statutory advisers on the transport needs of disabled people, considered responses and submitted 47 recommendations to Ministers on the future shape of the Scheme. I announced in the House on 18 December 2002 that the Government would be taking forward the majority of these, including a number of additional enforcement measures. Details of all the recommendations were placed in the House Libraries on 18 December 2002. The Government will be seeking to implement the changes at the earliest opportunity.

In the meantime, it is open to anybody to bring instances of fraudulent use to the attention of the police, traffic wardens, the appropriate local authority or car park operators and we will continue to work with these bodies and stakeholder groups to minimise the potential for abuse and misuse.