Unthinking drivers are parking in disabled spaces at Portlethen Academy, causing problems for those who are entitled to be there.
A Portlethen resident this week contacted local councillors to try to get parking laws enforced so that the spaces will be available for her and other people with disabilities who have blue badges.
Councillor Ian Mollison said: “The resident – who doesn’t wish to be named – provided photographs of several cars which were parked thoughtlessly.
“She told me that several people have contacted the academy and the council to complain, and were told it would be looked into.
“The resident also told me it’s not just an issue at the academy, as disabled and parent & child spaces are also being abused at the Asda and Homebase car parks. She emphasised that some drivers are repeat offenders.
“This is not something to be dismissed lightly. The resident has very limited mobility and relies on these spaces close to the entrance when she takes her children to and from the academy or to go shopping. She told me that more often than not she struggles to find a free disabled space as the majority are taken up by people not displaying blue badges.
“I have contacted the police and Aberdeenshire Council to see what can be done.”
Inspector Stewart Ednie has asked officers to look into the matter, though there may be difficulties with the space being off-road although a public space.
The situation at the academy is complicated by the fact that the premises are maintained by a private company, Robertson FM. “Nonetheless that should not be a barrier to enforcement,” said Councillor Mollison. “I have been assured by the company that their staff will take the appropriate action.”
The law was changed in 2009 to make it possible to enforce such parking places. The Disabled Persons’ Parking Places Act means anyone using designated spaces without a blue badge faces a fine of up to £60.
Councils are required to work with the owners and operators of private car parks – such as at supermarkets, shopping centres and in this case the school car park – to negotiate an agreement to make disabled parking places enforceable.
A council spokesman confirmed that the enforcement of blue badges on the public road is a matter for the police. If someone occupies a disabled bay on the public road without displaying a badge they are liable to be ticketed at the police’s discretion.
However if the bay is within the school then it is deemed to be on private land and therefore out with the police’s remit, and is a matter for the school to deal with.
Councillor Mollison appealed for drivers to show consideration to those who are less abled-bodied. “It is unacceptable for these parking spaces to be used inappropriately.”
UPDATE (June 24):
Grampian Police have confirmed that enforcing disabled parking spaces laws within the academy would not be enforceable by them. However they have discussed the issues with janitorial staff (provided by Robertson’s Facility Management) who are now aware of the position in terms of enforcement, in the last few week the situation has improved greatly after Robertsons staff erected some signage reminding drivers that only the relevant badge holders should park in the spaces.