Lack of understanding leads to misuse of disabled parking, says Committee

13.09.2017

Scotland’s disabled parking legislation is working well but more can be done to stop the misuse of parking places, a Holyrood Committee has claimed today.

In a report published by the Local Government and Communities Committee today, MSPs set out key recommendations to improve the Disabled Persons’ Parking Places (Scotland) Act.

The Act, which came into force in 2009, was aimed at stopping disabled parking spaces being used by those not entitled to use them. There are around one million disabled people in Scotland and many rely on disabled persons’ parking in everyday life.

While the Committee heard that overall the Act was working well in practice, witnesses – including the Scottish Disability Equality Forum – said the main underlying issue on parking misuse was people’s lack of understanding on the impact this has on disabled people’s quality of life. A more consistent approach to enforcing disabled parking misuse was also called for.

Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, Bob Doris MSP, said:

“Our Committee was pleased to see that local authorities and some private car parks had cracked down on the misuse of disabled parking places since the Act was introduced in 2009.

“However, during our evidence sessions, we heard from disability groups and many said there is still a perception that it is acceptable to use a disabled parking place even if it’s just to ‘nip to the shops’.

“We believe this is entirely unacceptable and people must understand that depriving someone of a disabled space could mean they are preventing that person from getting to their homes, jobs and to vital services. That’s why we’ve strongly urged the Scottish Government to devise a national awareness campaign in order to avoid the misuse and abuse of disabled parking in the future. We also recommend a review of how disabled parking abuse is enforced, which would help strengthen this message further.” 

Key recommendations of the report include…

  • While the Committee welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to look at undertaking a national awareness campaign, given the evidence we received about its importance to addressing misuse, we strongly urge the Scottish Government to take forward this approach.
  • Enforcement measures taken by private car park operators do not go far enough - especially smaller private car parks. More needs to be done to reinforce their responsibilities under existing legislation and a public awareness campaign would help drive home this message.
  • Questions have been raised around the capacity of Police Scotland to properly enforce the misuse of disabled persons' parking spaces, given their competing priorities. The Committee welcomes the commitment of the Scottish Government to look at the opportunities for each local authority to adopt decriminalised parking enforcement powers.

Background

The Disabled Persons’ Parking Places (Scotland) Bill was a Members’ bill introduced by Jackie Baillie MSP on 2 June 2008. The bill received Royal Assent on 1 April 2009.

The Act aims to make all disabled persons’ parking places legally enforceable, preventing the misuse of such parking places by those not entitled to use them. Currently, many disabled persons’ parking places are advisory and availability depends on the courtesy and consideration of other drivers.

The Act requires every local authority to undertake a one-off audit of all disabled persons’ parking places within their area, whether on-street or off-street.