Bay bosses fall back into line ‘thanks to Guardian’

Newly painted disabled parking bays on Gage Street in Lancaster
Newly painted disabled parking bays on Gage Street in Lancaster

Highways chiefs have performed a u-turn by resuming parking enforcement for blue badge bays in Lancaster city centre.

Disabled drivers hit out last month after learning that able bodied people were being allowed to park in the eight bays on Gage Street.

Lancashire County Council admitted that since April 2011 it had asked traffic wardens not to enforce the bays.

It said that their markings were “too faded” to enforce but that it had decided against spending money to re-paint them until Lancaster City Council had decided upon possible changes to disabled parking provision as part of its Square Routes project.

Under the scheme, which aims to improve pedestrianised areas of the city centre, three designated bays behind Lancaster City Museum and four non-designated bays in Market Square could be lost.

Graeme Ellis, who works at One Voice Disability Services in Lancaster, was among those who criticised the county council’s decision.

But Mr Ellis, 54, was enjoying a drink at The Borough last week when he spotted orange flashing lights coming from Gage Street.

He went to investigate and realised that the bays were being re-painted along with double yellow lines on the other side of the road.

The county council has confirmed that it has now resumed enforcement of them for blue badge holders.

“It looks like the article in the Lancaster Guardian helped to get this done,” said Mr Ellis, who is registered blind and suffers from neurological problems.

“There is not a lot of disabled parking provision in the city centre and a lot of people, including me, used those spaces to access the chemist on Gage Street.

“I’m glad that the council have seen sense but it should not take an article in a newspaper for common sense to prevail.

Ian Welsby, the county council’s highways manager for Lancaster, said: “We initially delayed the work to clarify issues with Lancaster City Council about the Square Routes project.

“As it is unlikely that any changes to highways in Gage Street will take place in the immediate future and that Lancaster City Council fully supported the re-marking of the route in the interim period to protect the disabled bays, we decided it was best to ensure the traffic regulations could be enforced.”

Mr Ellis, who lives at Bath Mill, said he was continuing to receive emails from disabled drivers worried about the Square Routes plans to remove the bays from behind the city museum and in Market Square.

“They use those spaces to access the library and the banks – they are really well used,” he added.