‘They failed to consult people’

Public meeting to discuss the disabled parking situation on Bridge Street.  Pictured is Simon Bernacki, Disability Nottinghamshire  (w120529-9d)
Public meeting to discuss the disabled parking situation on Bridge Street. Pictured is Simon Bernacki, Disability Nottinghamshire (w120529-9d)
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NOTTS County Council is facing legal action over its decision to ban disabled parking on Bridge Street.

The move was announced at a campaign meeting held in Worksop on Tuesday to discuss residents’ concerns over the recently-introduced traffic order.

Disability rights specialists Unity Law say the authority is discriminating against disabled people and has failed to consult or carry out an impact assessment.

They also say that some people adversely affected by the ban could be due some compensation.

Solicitor Chris Fry said they have until mid June to submit their legal case over the ban.

“This is a big opportunity to reverse this and to stop it from spreading to other towns in the county,” he said.

“A local authority has to consult properly - the consultation should be open for a significant amount of time and there should be time afterwards for the council to reflect on submitted feedback.”

“We hope that once the authority sits down and looks at this rationally they will see that it makes sense.”

The meeting, held at the Grafton Hotel pub, was organised by newly-formed campaign group Bassetlaw Disability Action Team (B-DAT) to lobby the council over the ban.

Simon Bernacki, of charity Disability Nottinghamshire, said it ‘urgent action’ was needed to get the message over to the council.

“I appreciate the council has received letters and phone calls from individuals but as a group there seems to be greater emphasis on the council to do things,” he said.

“Feedback from individuals doesn’t seem to have made an impact and we are now at a bit of a tipping point with the issue, which means challenging the council legally is the only avenue now.”

Mr Bernacki said he was also concerned about reactions from from certain people towards those with disabilities.

“There’s been a lot of reports on the internet- particularly Facebook - with a lot of people responding in a negative way which makes me think there’s much more to this than just parking and access issues,” he said.

“This might be the very beginning of something else - it’s about changing people’s perceptions and attitudes.”

Several people at the meeting said they were angry at the council’s treatment of disabled people.

Gary Titley said he felt ‘let down’ by the way the authority had implemented the ban.

“I spoke to several banks and shops about it and the council hadn’t consulted any of them - they found out about it through the Guardian,” he said.

“That’s the contempt the council holds disabled people in.”]

Barry Turner said his quality of life has taken a turn for the worse since the ban.

“I can’t walk more than 20 yards, so my wife used to do the shopping while I stayed up Bridge Street and had a cup of tea and talk to other people,” he said.

“Now I can’t do that and am stuck at home. That little bit of pleasure that means a hell of a lot has been taken away from me.”

A Notts County Council spokesman said: “The order came into force on 22 May 2012 and will be in place initially for six months. The experimental order could be made permanent once all comments and any objections received during the initial period have been considered. It could equally be revoked if the order is not working or creating particular hardship for users.”