The answer to whether a disabled driver can park in a space allocated for a parent and child is by no means black and white.
From my research on the internet, I found a whole lot of opinion and very few cold, hard facts.
So I started emailing and calling people. I contacted the Department of Transport, who told me it was an issue for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, but when I contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, they told me it would be a question for the Department of Transport.
So far, so woolly.
Next I contacted a few different agencies to try to find something concrete, and the first people to email back were the police, via askthe.police.uk. They replied:
This will depend on the terms and conditions of the car park. If the car park is owned and operated by the local council, you would need to check with them to see if this is permitted (gov.uk/find-your-local-council). If the car park is privately owned e.g. a supermarket car park, you would need to check with the owner, as to whether this was allowed.
On this advice I contacted the Blue Badge specialist at my local council, who replied:
We do not deal directly with parking; it will be different for every car park and we advise badge holders to check the board restrictions in each car park. Most parent and child spaces are in supermarkets, therefore it would be down to their discretion.
After this I got in touch with the very helpful Media Relations department at Sainsburys, who told me:
I can confirm Blue Badge holders are permitted to use our Parent & Child bays if the disabled spaces are full.
The vast majority of our customers are very considerate of parents with young children and respect family bays. If our parking attendants find these bays are being misused they will, in the first instance, ask the driver to move their car. If they refuse, they will be issued with a Parking Charge Notice.
With all these responses in mind, my advice in this instance would be to exercise caution and check with the owners of any car park before you park in case they have a strict policy of only families parking in the Parent & Child spaces, in order to avoid getting a Parking Charge Notice.
And personally, after thoroughly researching this topic, my opinions echo Sainsbury’s: Blue Badge holders should take priority over parents with children - if the disabled bays are all full.
Bear in mind the Parent & Child bays are a lifeline to new mummies struggling with the heavy car seats they are compelled by law to use – they need the wider bays to physically manhandle bulky car seats in and out, and with C-Sections becoming more prevalent they may have recently gone through major abdominal surgery.
And with so many grandparents now taking on more and more childcare duties, it might be a struggling grandma having to take exuberant grandchildren to the supermarket who needs the extra space.
Remember too, that the lack of clear regulations mean parents have to deal with people who don’t have children, as well as people who aren’t disabled, parking in their spots, so they might be quick to point it out if you don’t have children and shouldn’t (in their opinion) be parking there. However, if all the disabled spaces are taken and you calmly and politely point out your Blue Badge, that should go some way to diffusing the issue.
Of course, not everyone will have the same information I have just compiled, so you might end up arguing the point with someone who just doesn’t agree, and that’s sadly something you’ll have to be ready for if you do need to park in a Parent & Child space without a child.
In general, disabled bays are often closer to the shops and larger than Parent & Child spaces anyway, so it makes more sense for a Blue Badge holder to park in the disabled bays instead of in the Parent & Child bays anyway!
To finish off, I asked some parents of toddlers their thoughts on who should be able to park in a Parent & Child space:
'Personally I wouldn't mind at all if a disabled person needed to use a Parent & Child space, it's the people who have no need for them at all that frustrate me.' Alana, via Facebook
'We all should also acknowledge that some people may need the bays for non-visible disabilities, and I agree that the Parent & Child bays should be used as an overflow for disabled parking.' Sara, via Facebook
What do you think? Email us on email@example.com and let us know!
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