Dis­abled mum slams self­ish driv­ers

Tak­ing steps to find a so­lu­tion

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Countryfile - By Tim Collins

tcollins@thek­m­group.co.uk Self­ish mo­torists are tak­ing up dis­abled spa­ces around Ash­ford un­nec­es­sar­ily, ac­cord­ing to a blue badge holder.

Co­rina Mait­land has a num­ber of phys­i­cal con­di­tions which means she has been is­sued with a dis­abled park­ing badge.

The for­mer men­tal health sup­port worker also drives her son Joe, 11, who has Asperger’s, and her brother Robert Rus­sell, 63, who has learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, on reg­u­lar trips to the Cineworld cin­ema.

Miss Mait­land, 53, vis­its the Eureka Leisure Park in Ash­ford at least once a week, and says that on al­most ev­ery oc­ca­sion able bod­ied driv­ers can be found park­ing in dis­abled spa­ces.

She has also en­coun­tered sim­i­lar prob­lems at other car parks across the bor­ough.

The Sin­gle­ton res­i­dent said: “I’ve got enough stress in my life, car­ing for my­self and my fam­ily, and this doesn’t help at all.

“All of the peo­ple do­ing it are driv­ing flashy, large cars or big 4x4s. The rea­son they are do­ing it, I think, is that they want the big­ger spa­ces so that their cars don’t get knocked or dinged.

“What right do they have to pro­tect their cars at the ex­pense of dis­abled peo­ple? I think it’s to­tally wrong, and some­thing needs to be done about it.” Eureka Leisure Park have con­firmed they are aware of the prob­lem and that steps are be­ing taken to com­bat the sit­u­a­tion.

A spokesman said: “It has come to our at­ten­tion that dis­abled spa­ces within the car park have been used by peo­ple not en­ti­tled to use th­ese spa­ces.

“Cur­rently the spa­ces are not clearly signed or des­ig­nated for dis­abled use, and as such we are un­able to pe­nalise those peo­ple in­cor­rectly us­ing th­ese spa­ces. We are in the process of or­gan­is­ing new sig­nage to en­sure that ev­ery user at Eureka Park is clearly able to iden­tify the spa­ces that they can or can­not use and en­sure that the dis­abled spa­ces are kept for the ex­clu­sive use of those peo­ple en­ti­tled to use them.”

The mother-of-five says that Cineworld have al­ways been help­ful in ac­com­mo­dat­ing her fam­ily’s needs, in­clud­ing by al­low­ing them early ac­cess to screen­ings.

But the mul­ti­plex firm’s hands are tied when it comes to the park­ing sit­u­a­tion, as they

‘What right do they have, to pro­tect their cars at the ex­pense of dis­abled peo­ple? I think it’s to­tally wrong, and some­thing needs to be done about it’

do not own the land.

Miss Mait­land also claims that when she has con­fronted of­fend­ing driv­ers di­rectly, the at­ti­tude of some has been ag­gres­sive.

She added: “I have asked peo­ple who don’t have badges to move, and many of them have been rude and abu­sive. I can speak up for my­self, but per­haps there are oth­ers out there, par­tic­u­larly the very frail or el­derly, who don’t feel they can.

“I want to bring this be­hav­iour to the pub­lic’s at­ten­tion, and maybe they will stop and thing about what they’re do­ing in fu­ture. How would they feel if this was be­ing done to a mem­ber of their fam­ily?”

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group.co.uk

Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM2977532

Co­rina Mait­land with son Joe and brother Robert Rus­sell

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