Park over the lines and get a fine...park in the lines and you can't get out of the car
by STACEY HEANEY
The disabled parking bay in the Antrim Street Car Park. A car with its doors fully extended encroaches on the spaces next to it.
lt is clearly impossible to manoeuvre a disabled person into a wheelchair in the parking bays without using some of the space next to it.
A DISABLED woman from Lisburn has received a penalty notice for parking over the lines in a disabled parking bay - even though she wouldn't have been able to get into her wheelchair if she had stayed within the space! When the lady arrived at the Antrim Street car park on July 24, the car in the next bay was partly over the line in her space, forcing her to do the same.
Despite having paid the £30 Penalty Charge Notice, she says she is concerned the same thing may happen to fellow motorists. "The car to the left of us wasn't parked within its spot so then we had to go over into the next spot" she said. "I couldn't actually get out of the car and into my chair so we had to move over. I can understand why I got the ticket within the letter of the law, but you need access to transfer from the car to the wheelchair. I really just want to make other people aware of this. I waited until the warden came back to explain but they just said, It doesn't matter who started it."' She added: "It's not the money, it's the prinicple. The spaces aren't the size they are supposed to be, by law they should have access markings around them, and if someone else in a wheelchair can't get parked correctly then they are going to get a ticket."
In their response to the woman's appeal against the fine Roads Service responded: "The PCN was correctly issued. Your vehicle was not parked completely within the marked bays." They continued: "I would advise that if there are no proper parking places with adequate room to park within the marked bay, the onus is on the driver to find another parking place with adequate room to park legally wtthin the marked bay."
The lady also now approached Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who has promised to support her appeal. Mr Donaldson also intends to write to the Roads Service's Traffic Management Section about the parking bays in Antrim Street. "I am very concerned by the way in which this lady has been treated" he said. "Quite apart from the difficulty she experienced in actually getting into the space, I think there is an over-riding problem in that the spaces do not comply with the standards set out for disabled users."
Mr Donaldson said he believed that Roads Service as "not compliant" with
what is required by law, adding that the decision imposed "is most unfair
given the restrictions on the parking bay."
He concluded: "We have appealed this decision and will be challenging it all the way. I will be pressing Roads Service to look again at the size of disabled bays, as it is clear the dimensions are not sufficient to allow disabled people to get in and out of cars."
A DRD spokesperson said: "Roads Service has been managing the Antrim Street car park for a number of years and this is the first time that we have become aware of complaints about the disabled bays located within the car park. We will now monitor the use of the three disabled bays over the coming months to determine if any further action is necessary."