Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Forget the disabled - it's the money that matters!

As predicted, the call to reconsider Boston Borough Council’s parking strategy – in particular the decision to charge disabled blue badge holders – failed after our shameless and grasping ruling party put profit ahead of people.
Yet again, it showed the leadership’s slapdash approach to disability issues –  as several aspects emerged about the way decisions were taken.
It seems that the idea of half an hour’s “free” extra parking for the disabled was the brainchild of town centre portfolio bigwig Councillor Derek Richmond, who – as far as we are aware, is not disabled - and therefore has no understanding of the problems faced by people who are.
It is also somewhat disingenuous to call this parking “free” when it is merely extra time added to a period that is being charged for.
It also emerged that no equality impact assessment was done on the extra half hour – and that disabled access to parking machines was tested by an officer in a wheelchair!
Such unrepresentative action is an insult to disabled people, as it should be carried out by appropriate organisations with experience of such assessments.
Particularly worrying in all of this is the offhand disregard of problems faced by the disabled - railroaded through by a majority clearly acting under orders from our so-called “leaders.”
Even well-argued points by the Boston Disability Forum were cast aside.
It pointed out that someone who is not disabled can walk into town; drive into Boston but park out of town and then walk in, or access public transport –all of which means that they don’t have to pay to park.
“A disabled person is unable to access public transport; unable to park out of town or walk in, and unable to walk into town.
“Therefore they have no choice but to park near the shops for accessibility, and pay to park, which on a reduced income they can't afford.
“Finally, the disabled community would be discouraged to shop in Boston town centre - forcing them … to shop where is it easily accessible with large disabled parking bays, right near the door and free - such as supermarkets and other towns who have been wise enough not to impose this parking strategy on the disabled community.”
The call to review the parking strategy was made by Boston’s three Labour councillors – Paul Kenny, Paul Gleeson and Paul Goodale, and Independent Councillor Carol Taylor.
In an e-mail to Chief Executive Richard Harbord after the meeting, Councillor Taylor said: “I was saddened with the response I received regarding the 30-minute rule.
“Apparently, if a disabled person gets back to their car a little over the time limit and sees a parking ticket on their car, they can appeal and get it revoked.
“Let us hope that it is not a person who has had a triple heart bypass and as a consequence of the impending fine suffers undue stress between receiving and appealing the fine.
“I do not need to tell you how emotive this topic is but for a member of staff to place themselves in a wheelchair to emulate 'research' and pronounce that they can reach the ticket machine is highly controversial ….
“One of the later comments was that it would be too expensive to look at this again in more detail before introduction.
“When we decided to activate the call-in, we knew that we would lose our battle …
“It is a sad day to be witnessing the complete lack of understanding and empathy from Boston Borough Council, and even worse still, that our disabled community are not worth the money to investigate further before these rulings become final.”

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