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How disability friendly is Aylesbury's Cambridge Street car park?

One wheelchair user says recent changes are for the worse.

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 5:44am 16th March 2020. 5-minute read.

How disability friendly is Aylesbury's Cambridge Street car park?

An Aylesbury car park is being criticised after changes to its ticket process.

Changes at Aylesbury Shopping Park - otherwise known as Junction or Cambridge Street Retail Park - confused many in January.

Now, Ian Murray from Bucks wants to highlight the changes aren't disability friendly. 

Ian uses a wheelchair and says getting out of the car is a lengthy process:

"It takes me approximately 15 minutes to park and offload my wheel chair.

"I also have an oxygen tank which I have to secure to my wheelchair, this takes about 15 minutes because I've got a severe breathing problem I have to keep stopping before I can carry on."

The old system saw tickets issues at a machine, allowing Ian the time he needs to get out of the car before getting his ticket. 

Now, cameras snap the number plates of cars as they enter and leave. Only those staying over two hours need to get a ticket.

Cambridge Street Parking 6

For Ian this means time is taken away, with a quarter of that allowance used on getting in and out of his car. 

He says there is the option to call the company, but that takes time and is difficult for many like Ian with breathing problems.

Changes like this have a huge impact on his life:

"If I go in and I can't find a parking space I turn around and go home. I can't shop.

"You get to the stage where you think whats's the point... Why should I stress myself out to find out I can't go shopping anyway?"

Social isolation is an issue in those with disabilities, and restrictions like this could affect locals ability to go out without worry.

The change in system has also brought a familiar issue for those with blue badges to the car park. 

Cambridge Street Parking 6

Without a parking warden checking tickets, disabled bays are being taken by able bodied people without badges.

Which for most means they cannot park, as they need to wide spaces to off load wheelchairs.

Buds, Buckinghamshire Disability Service, is also aware of the problems the new system is causing:

"BuDS is also concerned about the changes that have been made to parking at Cambridge St Retail Park. It is good practice for disabled people to be given a minimum of 3 hours in time-controlled car parks because they take longer to embark and disembark and to move around. However, there is no way for disabled people to receive extra time because the ANPR system is fully automated.

"Because there is no alternative disabled parking nearby, BuDS would like to see a few ‘disability assistance’ call points installed so that disabled people can contact the system operators and obtain extra time. We see this as a legally-required ‘reasonable adjustment’ by the car park operator.

"We are also aware that the absence of parking attendants is leading to increased abuse of Blue Badge bays. Again, it is a legal requirement to provide Blue Badge parking and to prevent its abuse, so we expect the car park operator to do their job and protect Blue Badge spaces from abuse.

"Disabled people with Blue Badges aren’t a tiny percentage of people who deserve favours, they are 6-10% of the population of Aylesbury who spend money like everyone else and who have legally protected rights. The car park operator needs to up its game and work professionally. BuDS would be happy to meet them, share our concerns, and help them to find a solution which is Fair4All."

Group nexus who run the car park have provided this statement:

“With regards to Disabled motorists using the Cambridge Street Retail park the parking rules, maximum free stay time and tariffs remain unchanged from the old system, the recent changes made introducing the ANPR system was aimed at making all motorists lives easier.

"They still have 2 hours free parking, but now do not need to spend time visiting a payment machine upon entry to display a ticket, instead they only need to visit a payment terminal if they wish to stay for longer than 2-hours complimentary parking allocation and this can be done prior to leaving the site, or from the newly installed payment App anytime up until midnight of the day they parked.

"We understand the concerns explained to us by disabled motorists and we will be looking into how we improve the experience for everyone in the future”

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