Saturday, 28 November 2020

Anger over axe for ‘under used’ disabled parking bay

A PARKING bay in Henley reserved for disabled drivers could be removed.

A PARKING bay in Henley reserved for disabled drivers could be removed.

The town council’s parking supervisor says the space outside the Catherine Wheel in Hart Street is hardly used and has recommended that it is converted into a space for drivers with a resident’s permit.

He said that with another three disabled bays among the 31 parking spaces in New Street there was enough provision.

However, some councillors disagree.

Speaking at the council’s town and community committee on Tuesday, Councillor Martin Akehurst said he was “horrified” by the proposal. He said: “It has been drawn up by someone who’s never tried to get a disabled vehicle in this town…. and it’s appalling we’re even considering it. We don’t have enough disabled bays.”

Councillor Pam Phillips said drivers with a blue disabled badge could park anywhere, including on double yellow lines.

But Cllr Akehurst said this didn’t solve the problem, explaining: “If you have a modified vehicle where you are trying to get a wheelchair out it’s not an option to park anywhere.”

Councillor Kellie Gehrmann said she walked past the Hart Street bay every day and noticed it was under used.

Councillor David Nimmo Smith said there were also a number of disabled parking bays in Greys Road car park and many of them were often spare.

But Deputy Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said this was irrelevant. “With all of us getting older and living longer, there will be a need for us and we shouldn’t even remove one,” he said.

Councillor Will Hamilton praised the parking supervisor for having the “courage” to make such a controversial recommendation.

“I’m not being nasty to the disabled and it’s not a case of taking spaces away from them because they can park anywhere,” he said. Town clerk Mike Kennedy said the size of the space would not be altered and it would still fit modified vehicles. “All we’re doing is taking away the disabled name so more people can use it,” he said.

The committee recommended by five votes to four to remove the bay and the final decision will rest with the full council.

In a letter to this week’s Standard, Councillor David Silvester appeals for the space to be left as it is and says he frequently uses it when driving a disabled passenger.

He says: “It would be good to know whether disabled citizens have been part of the consultation process for this move or if disabled people are considered as the ‘easy meat’ to give a good kicking on behalf of the able-bodied residents.”

lWhat do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email

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