There has been a predictable backlash by a combination of disability rights campaigners, LibDems and the intellectual-left over comments by Tory MP Anthony Steen regarding disabled parking places.
Devon MP Steen was, quite rightly, nicked for parking for 2 days in a disabled space. I am a great believer in the law and it is right that he was fined.
But his so-called defence of his actions was saying that there are too many disabled spaces and not enough for the abled bodies. This looked liked sour grapes and that Mr Steen was trying to get out of trouble. That is sad because it has masked a subject that was discussed recently on Scrutiny Committee at Norwich City Council - are there too many disabled spaces?
From my totally unscientific sample I'd say so - whilst at the same time there being far too few parent spaces (that should be "parent & toddler" spaces - I'm fed up of people with 11 year olds parking next to the door at Sainsbury's whilst Emily and I struggle across the length of the car park).
There was much discussion about St. Giles Car Park where large numbers of disabled spaces stand empty whilst able bodies drivers go round and round looking for gaps. Could the disabled give up a few spaces (not all, but a few) to ease pressure for other people? Or could a few disabled spaces become parents spaces?
In the end, we decided we didn't have enough information to judge but that the council should look into this at some point in the future.
Jumping up and down and shouting at Steen won't make the substantive point go away - we need to ask if there are too many disabled spaces and the disabled lobby won't be taken seriously until they partake in this debate themselves.
Now somebody has to tell him about the words handicapped which only old farts and Tories use, if like most Tories they enjoy a day at the races, he will know they handicap horses not people.
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