I’ll be just a minute

“I’ll be just a minute”
“Do you think you’re a guard?”
“My son has a disability”
“What odds is it to you?”
“I didn’t realise it was an accessible parking space”
Believe it or not these are just some of the excuses or responses I’ve heard or seen relating to people being illegally parked in accessible parking spaces. I’m not sure where the mindset has come from but the problem has become increasingly prevalent in recent times. When any breach of law happens that inconveniences people it is annoying but when a particular sector of society are unable to go about their daily business as a result of a persistent breach of the law (I see it multiple times on a daily basis) we must ask the question when & why did this become acceptable? Personally I believe it is a combination of laziness, lack of education re: awareness of disability, believe it or not also I think a ridiculous belief that people with disabilities don’t be out after 6.00 pm or at weekends.

Physical abuse.
I have even seen people challenge illegal parking, only to be physically abused by the perpetrator. Incidents like this rarely get reported, so they rarely end up in court. But they do intimidate people from getting ‘involved’ at all. How many times have you seen someone park in accessible parking illegally, but you did not want to get ‘involved’. We are all involved, every one of us. We provide this limited parking for the people who need it, so we need to ensure that other people do not abuse the facility. If you saw someone messing with a lifebuoy at a pier or on a beach, would you get involved? If you came across someone being racially abusive, would you step in? We all need to protect the rights of people in our community who need to use this parking facility. That is what it is for – simple.

Education about accessible parking in our towns.
How then do we fix the problem, education is key. We only have to look at the recycling education programmes in our schools and see how that has enthused children to encourage their families to be more involved in recycling. This is a wonderful initiative for recycling things and protecting our environment. Now what can we do to protect the rights of less mobile members of our community?

I believe in education in our schools relating to the benefits of having people with disabilities involved, and able to participate in all aspects of society including information around the barriers to full participation is key in ensuring those barriers, including illegal parking are removed.

Commercial value of the Purple Pound
From a business perspective the value of the spending power of people with disabilities, otherwise referred to as ‘The Purple Pound’, needs to be better understood in order that business people realise the market they are potentially losing out on, given that between 1 in 4 to 5 people have a disability. Personal responsibility from drivers and better law enforcement needs also to happen. All of these measures would improve things but no doubt the positive change will take more than “just a minute”.