Most car parks provide disabled bays to meet the requirement in the Equality Act 2010 to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ to those who fit the lawful definition of disability. That means the person has the lawful right to park there if they have a long-term disability and they have the need for a disabled bay (e.g. because it is wider, nearer the shops). For council-owned car parks and public roads, the blue badge scheme is run to enable holders to show that they have certain parking rights. However, the blue badge scheme does not apply on private land.
Often private car parks have signs demanding drivers display a blue badge when using the disabled parking bays, or risk getting a parking ticket. However, just because someone does not hold (or does not display) a blue badge does not mean they are not disabled; the Equality Act does not require the driver to display any sort of badge or permit. Anyone who fits the lawful definition of disability is entitled to make use of the ‘reasonable adjustments’. What they are in effect doing is adding arbitrary rules to the lawful right of someone to use a ‘reasonable adjustment’, and this could be considered a breach of the Equality Act.
It should be noted that this does not mean that you should not display a blue badge if you have one. Clearly, if you were to hold one, it would assist all parties by displaying it. But what is wrong is that parking companies include terms and conditions requiring you to display one as a contractual term for using a disabled bay; they have a duty of reasonable adjustment to disabled persons.
At Parking Cowboys we hear of people being issued parking tickets for not displaying blue badges; either because they have forgotten to display them, or because they do not have one. So what should do? The simple answer is to tell the parking attendant, or appeal stating that you have a legal right to use the space, and provide any evidence you may have. At that point, the parking company should not pursue the charge since it would then be disability discrimination under the Equality Act. In short, don’t stand for such behaviour. If you are registered disabled and you are unfairly issued a parking ticket then fight back!
The BPA Code of Practice makes an explicit statement about Blue Badges:
16.5) If your landowner provides a concession that allows parking for disabled people, if a vehicle displays a valid Blue Badge you must not issue it with parking charge notices
Now, since most car parks will have a concession for disabled people (e.g. disabled parking bays), then this would appear to be a very strong point of appeal. If your car is displaying a blue badge then you should be able to make this point in your appeal to get any parking charge from a BPA member cancelled. For example, if you receive a ticket for overstaying the maximum free time then in your appeal you should state that you have a blue badge and that the BPA code of practice requires that the operator does not issue parking charge notices against that vehicle.
Update October 2013 – Disabled motorist beats parking company in court in blue badge case
In this case reported on PePiPoo, a particularly brave disabled motorist fought back against Excel Parking. In short he was ticketed for not displaying his blue badge, despite being able to show it to the parking attendant when he returned to his vehicle. Excel refused to cancel his ticket, as did POPLA, the ‘independent appeals service’. Excel then took him to court to enforce the ticket, but lost. The judge ruled that since the motorist was registered disabled, the parking company should have made reasonable adjustments. Hopefully others can benefit from this case by showing a) giving others the confidence to stand up for themselves in similar circumstances, and b) cite this in their appeals and court cases.
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