In August DMUK asked the public to help us with our Baywatch Campaign by completing a survey on their parking experiences over the past 12 months. The results have now been calculated. DMUK would like to thank everybody who participated in this year’s Baywatch Campaign.
Traditionally the Baywatch Campaign asks the public to survey supermarket car parks for levels of disabled parking abuse. We were unable to undertake this type of campaign in 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Instead we asked the public to complete a survey from home which asked them questions on their more general parking experiences. This allowed DMUK to expand the scope of the campaign to other parking settings.
FINDINGS Local Authorities
One of the most alarming statistics that came from the survey results was that 95.6% of participants did not think that local authorities were doing enough to tackle Blue Badge abuse. This is a very high percentage, but not at all surprising to DMUK.
Every year the ‘Blue Badge Statistics’ are released and every year the number of local authorities actually prosecuting Blue Badge fraud is disappointingly low. The Baywatch Campaign also showed that only 20.8% of Blue Badge holders had every been asked to have their Blue Badge inspected by an official and that 96.4% of participants supported more inspections of Blue Badges.
The disabled community has spoken, and local authorities must do more to support their parking needs. DMUK wants to see far more Blue Badge inspections and enforcement of the on-street concession.
With the data gathered we cannot do our usual supermarket league table with who is performing best and worst.
However, the results have shown that 53.4% of participants either find it ‘Difficult’ or ‘Very Difficult’ to find suitable disabled parking in general at supermarkets. Also 86.8% found that disabled parking bays were either ‘Often’ or ‘Very Often’ abused. (Abused is defined as vehicles parking in disabled bays not displaying a Blue Badge.)
These statistics show that supermarkets are not doing enough to support their disabled customers. Disabled parking is not managed properly, disabled parking bays are clearly not enforced, and abuse of the bays is rife.
Looking specifically at enforcement DMUK asked the question: When parking at the supermarket do you ever see signs of enforcement? In response to this 55.1% of respondents said No.
The next question asked was: If you have reported disabled parking abuse to a member of staff do they take action? 86.7% of respondents answered ‘No’ to this question.
This is distressing and shows that when a disabled customer asks for help their concerns are ignored by supermarket staff.
General Findings The survey also asked participants about parking on their everyday journeys, not just at the supermarkets.
On these types of journeys 74.8% of respondents said that finding suitable disabled parking was either ‘Difficult’ or ‘Very Difficult’. Also, generally when parking 87.7% of respondents said that they ‘Often’ or ‘Very often’ saw disabled bays being abused.
These statistics are appalling. Being able to drive and park at their desired destination is imperative to the independence of disabled people. The figures show that disabled people are being disadvantaged and prevented from living independent lives because of the state of the nation’s disabled parking provision and enforcement.
These statistics should be the wake up call that the parking industry needs to once and for all provide adequate parking provision to disabled motorists and make sure it is enforced correctly. The level of deterrent needs to reflect the importance of keeping disabled bays free for genuine users and at present the deterrent clearly isn’t enough.
The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Earlier in the summer 2020 we started to receive anecdotal evidence that disabled bays were being removed from car parks to make room for socially distanced queuing.
As lockdown restrictions eased this became a more common problem. We posed the question in our survey: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic have you seen disabled bays being removed? Eg, for queuing. 65.8% of respondents answered ‘Yes’ to this question.
Once again the needs of disabled people have been pushed to the back of the queue and equality has been forgotten.
DMUK is delighted with the level of support it has received for this year’s Baywatch campaign. However, we are very concerned about the levels of disabled parking abuse in all parking settings.
The parking industry and local authorities all need to do more to support disabled people. Accessibility starts in the car park and without proper parking provision and enforcement of disabled parking, disabled people find it increasingly difficult to live independent lives.
DMUK demands that this issue is taken seriously