Not all child’s play

Not all child’s play

Should Blue Badge holders be fined for parking in mother and child bays, asks Helen Smith.

We all know the situation. You drive into a supermarket car park. All the disabled bays are full but there’s space in the parent and child bays. You now have to make the decision – do you risk the wrath of a worked up mother and park in the parent and child bay or wait in the hope that a disabled shopper will soon return to their vehicle?

This is just the situation which the disabled parents of Janice Turner, a journalist from The Times, found themselves in. When they went to do their shopping at their local supermarket they parked in a parent and child bay as all the disabled bays were full. However, when they returned to their car they were shocked to find a scrawled note pinned to their windscreen saying: “This is not a disabled space, this is for parents, you stupid old bastards.” Janice was so angered by the insensitivity of the note-writer that she wrote a piece for The Times entitled “Worship of children has gone too far”. Her article goes on to say that: “The note-writer is ignorant as well as cruel: a Blue Badge holder has the right to park in any space – even on yellow lines – by law.”

Although I completely agree with Janice that the note was cruel she is in fact wrong in advising that Blue Badge holders have the right to park in any bay. Although it seems like common sense to let disabled people park in the parent and child bays when all the disabled bays are full it does seem that this is a line which must never be crossed. After this article was published in The Times I received this email from a confused Blue Badge holder.

“Can I park with my Blue Badge showing in a parent and child space if all disabled spaces are full? In our local Sainsbury’s car park I was fined £30 for doing this, which I think is disgraceful, especially as there were plenty of mother and child spaces free. I read in The Times that for disabled people to park in parent and child spaces is quite legal and I should not have been fined. I paid the fine, unfortunately, as I did not know this! But can you tell me what the legal position is on this?”

The legal position is quite simple. Off-street car parks can have spaces for pink Sherman tanks if they want and if they put up the proper signs they can charge you if you park there with any other vehicle. Therefore disabled people without children cannot park in the parent and child spaces.

Although supermarkets have a duty to make sure disabled people can access their goods and services there is no such requirement which says that they must make it easier for parents with children. The reason parent and child spaces are provided is because it makes life easier for parents who spend lots of money and that’s good business sense.

What’s not good business sense is fining disabled people for parking in the wrong space. Just like the elderly couple featured in The Times disabled people don’t park in the mother and child spaces because they can’t be bothered to walk a bit further. They park there when the disabled bays are full and they are in need of a wide space near to the door.

So should parents with children be allowed in the disabled bays? As far as I’m concerned absolutely – as long as the parent is disabled. But otherwise no. I may be accused of being a hypocrite but for many disabled people a wide bay close to the door is essential whereas for parents with children a wide bay really is just a help.

6 thoughts on “Not all child’s play

  1. A massive thank you on this article today I parked in a parent and child as there was no disabled spaces, DISRESPECTFUL a woman shouted at me I may have been using a scooter due to mobility problems but she did not know if there was anything else wrong with me I won’t rant on with what she said.

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  2. This is obviously a difficult issue. I recently tapped on the window of an elderly gents car who parked in a parent n child bay at our local supermarket with no small children in his car. He got really angry with me and said as a blue badge holder he could park anywhere and to mind my own business – harrassing an elderly disabled gent was disgusting – I was very polite and courteous! I pointed out that there were several designated disabled bays free right by the entrance, but he just wound his window up and got out.
    I had twin babies in my car but had to park quite a distance from the entrance with virtually no room to open my doors to get them out. I obviously couldn’t leave them unattended while I walked to the trolley station; I had to unlock their car seats and carry both at the same time to queue for a trolley. This is a dilema that many parents/carers of young children have. The purpose of parent and child bays is simply to provide more space to get little ones in and out safely, near to trolleys so they can be seated quickly.

    A little mutual courtesy would have gone such a long way.

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  3. Totally absolutely right to fine someone without children for parking in a parent and child space! Wheelchair, walking aids, difficulty walking = need of a wide space, close to the door
    Small child who might run, need to get child into car, need to open buggy to get child in = need of a wide space, close to the door
    The needs are equal so the provisions are equally necessary
    Either one lot of wide spaces for both and therefore if no disabled people can park because they are all taken by parents and kids, that’s tough. OR two lots of spaces and no-one with a kid but without a blue badge can park in the disabled spaces, and no-one with a blue badge but without a kid, can park in the parent and child spaces.
    And to those disabled people who say ‘I have a blue badge, I can park anywhere’ NO actually that is not the law. A public car park must provide at least the right number of Blue Badge holder spaces (they have to provide one per certain number of non-blue-badge spaces). However there is nothing to say that they can’t provide other ring-fenced spaces, which a disabled person can’t park in if they don’t meet the other criteria – they could provide special spaces for red cars, minis, cars driven by tigers, whatever! Provided they provide the blue-badge spaces, that’s fine.

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  4. for all these people saying about disabled needing bigger spaces well so do parents i.e. Getting baby seats out and putting children in prams. I have just had to park in a normal space and struggle to get my baby seat out just because some man parked in mother and baby with a blue badge! He didn’t need a bigger space whatso ever!!

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  5. Disabled drivers should be allowed to park in a parent and child bay. I once had to do this for my grand mother as there were no disabled bays left and needed to get a wheel chair.
    No parents should not be allowed to park in a disabled bay (unless they actually are disabled, or their child is disabled). Having a baby does not make you create a disability, parents bring children into the world by choice so they should suffer the inconvenience if there is no more parent and baby spaces left. Disabled people don’t ask to me disabled.

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  6. Today I went with my 9wk old daughter to the supermarket. When I got there there were no spaces however one was just leaving. I gestured to the driver to let him know I had stopped so he could complete his maneuver and that would mean I could take his place.
    As he drove away an old woman forced her way into the space nearly taking the front end off my car.
    When I confronted her she screamed at me
    “I have a motobility car and a blue badge I have priority over everyone else”
    When I stated that I would take her details and report her behaviour and the cctv Inc audio from my dashcam to the blue badge office she took her badge out and walked off.

    To me that is abusing the scheme. At this particular supermarket the parent child bays are no closer to the doors than any other space. The parent bays are a godsend to me at this stage of my daughters life as it means I can simply open the door wide and lift her car seat out completely without disturbing her if she’s sleeping.

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