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13 March 2017

Monday Musing: Size does matter

Disabled spaces in some of Britain’s older car parks are sometimes not what they should be and can cause distress to those that need them.

A lot of our car parks date back to the 1960s and before the Blue Badge Scheme. This scheme of concessions was originally introduced (using Orange Badges) by the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970.

The BPA is concerned that Britain’s many aging car parks need to be properly serviced and maintained, including updating the provision of disabled bays.

The earliest surviving car park that we know of, that still remain a functioning car park is the Botanic Gardens Garage, the oldest motor garage surviving in Glasgow, built between 1906 and 1911.

There is a two-pronged approach to tackle the issue and ensure spaces set aside for blue badge users are up to scratch, these are:

  • Disabled Parking Accreditation (DPA)
  • Ensuring information on creating high quality parking facilities for disabled people is available for new builds and structural updates to car parks

If we take this recent example, we can see that nowadays, when new car parks are created, specific blue badge spaces are usually put in place with wider spaces, which are easily accessible and closer to the hospital they serve.

Although many car parks have been well renovated to provide modern facilities for the public, unfortunately some older car parks do not have the same facilities and, because they were built so long ago and with the NHS struggling with their budgets being strapped for cash, they cannot always successfully adapted without very significant investment or a complete rebuild - which is both costly and sometimes inconvenient when the parking is closed for long periods of time.

It is important that owners and operators have a financial mechanism in place to fund routine structural assessments, life-care planning and essential maintenance.

For car parks that have a financial mechanism in place to update facilities or car parks that already potentially have good facilities for disabled motorists then the Disabled Parking Accreditation (DPA) is there to recognise and celebrate this by assessing these facilities and ensuring any necessary changes are made, for example to the heights of signage or machines to make them excellent and well recognised places to park for disabled drivers.

So far nearly 300 car parks in the UK have the DPA and still BPA area managers are constantly assessing new car parks to add to the list.

The project of joint management of the DPA by the British Parking Association and Disabled Motoring UK was nominated for the British Parking Award’s 2017 Parking Partnership Award, and although we didn’t win, it is a sure sign that it is an excellent partnership and the accreditation is recognised as raising the standards in parking.

To find DPA car parks please visit this website.

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