Is the shame game the right solution to Shropshire motorists who misuse accessible parking bays?
Disclaimer: The below article is a tongue-in-cheek look at parking without a blue badge. In no way does the JT Hughes Group agree or endorse vandalism or aggressive behaviour. We do hope this raises awareness of the difficulties of parking with a disability. We encourage you to comment on our blog and Facebook page, but please be respectful. Offensive language is not acceptable and will be deleted.
Accessible Parking Bays - The shame game.
We’ve all seen it happen. The Telford Shopping Centre car park is full, so a non-disabled driver heads straight for the accessible parking bay and saunters out of their car without a care in the world.
It happens with on street parking too. Someone is in a hurry in Shrewsbury, they park up quickly so they can dash into the corner shop to buy something, and before you know it, all the accessible parking on a busy street has been taken up. Shaming people though, is a tricky business and it is important to remember that many impairments are invisible, and someone that you initially believe to be without a disability, may have any number of hidden conditions. If they do though, and they’re using on street parking, they should be displaying their Blue Badge. So if it’s not on display on their windscreen, there’s a good chance they’re taking liberties and abusing the system.
Firstly, lets state some facts. Parking in an accessible parking bay is a criminal offence if you don’t have a Blue Badge, and you could be fined £1,000 for doing so. Equally, it is a criminal offence to lend your badge to anyone else, disabled or not, and even if a family member or carer regularly drives your car for you, if you are not present and they are not parking in order to pick you up, they are breaking the law as well. Your badge must also be on display at all times when you are parked in an accessible space, with the hologram face up so your photo isn’t on display.
It’s also important to remember, that when it comes to off-road parking in supermarket car parks in Telford Town Centre and the like, different rules could apply. The Blue Badge scheme is only enforceable for on-street parking, and in most cases it is not illegal to park in an accessible bay in a car park if you are not disabled. Instead, these parking spaces rely on the discretion and good behaviour of the general public, which we know, can’t always be relied upon!
So what should you do, if you’re out and about in Shropshire and see someone misusing a Blue Badge parking bay? Well, firstly, it’s a good idea to check whether they’re displaying a Blue Badge or not, as their disability may be invisible. Below are some examples of how motorist abusing the system were publicly shamed. I am not convinced this is the right approach, but it does highlight the frustrations of some, judging by the lengths they've gone to.
1. Creative Shaming.
In terms of global impact, nothing beats this stunt pulled by a group of guys in Brazil. After spotting a non disabled person parking in an accessible parking bay, the group came along with literally thousands of blue and white Post-its, and completely covered the car, creating a Blue Badge logo, complete with a wheelchair symbol. Upon returning to his car, the owner started aggressively ripping the Post-its from his vehicle, until he’d freed enough of his windscreen for him to make a very speedy exit. Needless to say, he wasn’t amused! You can watch the video of the incident below, which subsequently went viral around the world.
2. Hit where it hurts.
While I would never advocate breaking the law or defacing private property in response to parking bay misuse, there is something about the fact this was done to an expensive car, which makes it quite amusing. In Central London, a BMW parked in a disabled bay, without a Blue Badge, had a rude word, beginning in ‘W’ and ending in ‘R’ sprayed on it. While this is clearly a very dangerous response, as the graffiti “artist” risked ending up in jail themselves, I’m sure it will certainly make the car owner think twice in the future.
3. Name and shame.
If you see someone misusing a bay in a supermarket or shopping centre car park while out and about in Shropshire, it might just be time for a bit of naming and shaming. Tell security staff inside the store that someone is misusing the parking bay, and if they’re up on their disability rights, they might well be persuaded to announce the make and registration over the tannoy and ask the driver to report to the information desk so they can get a telling off and then move their vehicle. Hopefully they’ll be suitably embarrassed after a ‘walk of shame’ to the desk and won’t repeat the offence in the future.
4. A quiet face to face.
I would advise you to do this if you are with a friend, family member or carer who will be able to handle the situation if the person gets angry. The last thing you want to do is put yourself in danger, so think carefully before trying this approach. If you’re up for it though, try waiting by the offending vehicle until the owner returns and tell them face-to-face why their behaviour is wrong. Sometimes people simply don’t think about the effect of their actions, and being confronted may be just the jolt they need to realise they’ve been behaving badly.
5. Report them.
Lastly, and most sensibly, the best thing to do if you see someone using an accessible parking bay illegally is report them. Often this is simply a case of telling a nearby ticket inspector, traffic warden or police officer, or if there is no one around, taking a note of the number plate and giving the police a call on their 101 number. Many main roads in the UK are now covered by CCTV, so it is likely that the offender will be caught on camera too, which will help the police to make a case against them.
A spokesperson for the management of Telford Shopping centre said: “The majority of our parking bays for the less abled are located in the vicinity of our Shopmobility facility. “Fortunately, there are very few occasions when these spaces are abused by those without official disabled parking badges. Nevertheless, on those rare occasions, our customer service and security teams are happy to assist and will always investigate the matter immediately; insisting on the removal of offending vehicles as appropriate.”
For the Shrewsbury area, the responsibility for managing parking is with Shropshire Council, who state that the majority of motorists use car parks and parking spaces correctly. They employ and manage a team of civil enforcement officers (CEOs) who work to very strict guidelines when issuing penalty charge notices (PCNs). They can even inspect blue badges to ensure that they are valid and not being misused. Click here for more information on parking in Shrewsbury
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Do you know of any parking bays in Shropshire that are regularly misused by non-blue badge holders? Why not share them with us and we can all keep an eye out, and help put this unfair practice to an end in our county!