Monday, March 31, 2003
Waterford News & Star
By Jennifer Long
A DISABILITY group in Waterford is urging Minister Martin Cullen to
stop able-bodied people “abusing” disabled parking spaces by increasing
fines from €19 to €190. The local branch of Multiple Sclerosis
Ireland say disabled people in Waterford are “seriously inconvenienced”
by the inconsiderate actions of those who park in disabled spaces.
They have written a letter to Minister Martin Cullen, who ultimately has responsibility for the rates, asking him to address the situation. The letter suggests the increase from €19 to €190 but says that while it might seem like an excessive increase, “there is no justifiable reasons for an able-bodied person to be using a disabled parking space, even if it is ‘only for a minute’ ”.
Committee member Paul Flynn, who signed the letter, said that if properly enforced, the proposed increase would soon have a positive effect on the issue of misuse. He added that any additional funds generated by this — which go back to the local authority — could be used by the City Council to fund improvements in accessibility of footpaths, especially in relation to wheelchairs.
“I have approached people myself who have been parked in disabled spaces and the answer I’ve got back is ‘I’m only here for a minute’. This issue is one of a number we are concerned about and it’s a problem disabled people face on a daily basis when they come into the city to go to the shops, a doctor’s surgery or whatever. It’s a total disregard for disabled people,” he said on Monday.
He said the current €19 fine — the same as a normal parking fine — was too low for people to take it seriously. He said some additional parking spaces seemed to have come on stream in the city in recent months but the lack of a sufficient deterrent to discourage misuse of the amenity “renders any increase ineffectual.”
Paul Flynn added that people with disabilities in Waterford were also inconvenienced by both the height of footpaths and awkward pedestrian paving around the city. He said the cobbling in Hanover Street was “difficult enough for an able-bodied person to manage” while a path to the front of Bishop’s Palace was extremely hazardous when wet.
Several public houses in the city which had been renovated had also
taken to placing toilets upstairs which, in effect, said that disabled
people were not welcome.
© Waterford News & Star, 2003