May 21, 2003 18:43
An angry couple today accused council chiefs of blatantly ignoring the needs of the disabled – after parking was removed to make way for a recycling roadshow.
Shirley and Brian Ball were dismayed when they arrived in Felixstowe for lunch and shopping only to find a town centre disabled parking bay coned off and filled with dustbins and composting equipment.
Mrs Ball, 45, has Multiple Sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair, and needs to be able to park as close to the shops as she can.
"We could not believe it – it is so important for disabled people to be able to park in a town centre and the dedicated parking spaces had been coned off to make way for dustbins!" said Mr Ball, 53, of Glastonbury Close, Ipswich.
"They could have held that recycling exhibition anywhere in the town centre but they chose to take away the disabled parking.
"The pavement on the other side of the road was as wide but they didn't take away the taxi rank for the day.
"I think they just didn't think it through properly. Until you are disabled or live with a person who is you just don't realise how important some of the issues are, and being able to park near to where you want to go is vital."
The couple regularly visit Felixstowe to shop because they find access for those with disabilities easier than in Ipswich, with most shops accessible.
They always park in the disabled bay alongside The Triangle, Hamilton Road, but said the Slim Your Bin exhibition, run by a partnership of councils, had taken up about five spaces.
Mr and Mrs Ball have a blue badge and could have parked anywhere but said they did not want to abuse the system.
"We could park anywhere but if there is a disabled bay then we would rather use that than take up all the privileges of the badge system. Also, there is no point parking at the other end of Hamilton Road if you want to be near Tesco," said Mr Ball, who retired early to look after his wife.
"It was blowing a gale and was cold and, although my wife has an electric wheelchair, we wanted to be close to the shops we would be visiting.
"They could have held the recycling exhibition on the Crescent car park, outside Great Eastern Square or even further down The Triangle."
Suffolk County Council apologised for the inconvenience caused by the temporary removal of the parking. It said three spaces were removed on the health and safety advice while the Slim Your Bin roadshow took place.
"We will ensure their complaint is considered to avoid future problems,"
said a spokesman
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