More than 700 people caught parking illegally in disabled bays across Waveney
- Credit: Archant
More than 700 people have been fined for illegally parking in disabled parking spaces across Waveney in the last five years.
Since the beginning of 2013, Waveney District Council has issued 728 fines against drivers for parking in a disabled bay without clearly displaying a valid disabled badge.
After figures were revealed, disability campaigners, carers and the council have slammed the 'selfish' drivers who choose to flaunt the rules designed to help those most in need.
Margaret Oldham, who is vice-chairman of Disabled Motoring UK and relies on a electric wheelchair, said: 'From a personal point of view it's a horrendous situation and we have been tackling this issue for years.
'The whole idea of blue badges is so that you can park close to where you want to go.
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'When you can't it makes life very difficult.'
Those found parking in a disabled bay without a blue badge receive an £80 Excess Charge Notice, lowered to £50 if paid within two weeks.
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However Mrs Oldham, who is also chairman of DIAL Lowestoft and Waveney, believes the best deterrent for the problem will be specialised parking enforcers checking for blue badges.
She added: 'If I see people parking without a badge I will say something but usually you just get a mouthful – it's not very pleasant.'
Across Waveney, Lowestoft saw the highest rate of offences with 488 recorded in the town.
Water Lane car park was the worst of these with 133 fines issued, closely followed by Clapham Road car park with 117.
Elsewhere Halesworth's Thoroughfare car park saw 73 fines while car parks across Beccles encountered a further 75.
Stephen Robson uses the disabled bays at the Water Lane car park when taking his 23-year-old stepson William Russell to use the pool at Waterlane Leisure Centre.
In 2012 Mr Russell underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour and has been left with reduced movement down the right side of his body and is now dependent on either crutches or a wheelchair.
Mr Robson said: 'We use the pool to get William fit and help with his rehabilitation.
'People who don't have disabled family members don't realise what goes into caring for them with things like getting them into buildings.'
Mr Russell added: 'We need the shorter walking distances for easier access.'
Where did most offences occur?
In light of the figures Waveney District Council (WDC) have vowed to 'clamp down' on drivers illegally parking in disabled bays.
A WDC spokesman said: 'Disabled spaces are incredibly important for drivers who require convenient places to park.
'They are clearly marked and there is no excuse for other drivers to take up these spaces.
'It is a selfish and unnecessary act and we will continue to clamp down on those who ignore the needs of other people in this way.'
Joanne O'Neill, has been a carer in Waveney for 15 years and said: 'People's understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities is still quite bad.
'People shouldn't be parking in spaces for disabled people, they should just use the others.'
The car parks with the highest rates of offences in the last five years are:
• Water Lane car park, Lowestoft - 133
• Clapham Road car park, Lowestoft - 117
• Thoroughfare car park, Halesworth - 73
• Britten Centre car park, Lowestoft - 64
• Royal Green car park, Lowestoft - 63