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   Travel > Worth a mention > The Wheel Clamping B
The Wheel Clamping Ban and the Disabled Motorist

Boiling down, the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 which has recently received Royal Assent drives at safeguarding the lives, the liberties, the freedoms and the basic dignity of everyone who makes these islands their domicile.

One part of the Act outlaws:
1. The use of the wheel clamp
2. Towing away motor vehicles
Without special legal authority.

This has the effect of curtailing the power of the private landowner (and others such as public authorities outside special situations) with regard to unpermitted parking. It depends on legal authority which is being able to do something with the power of the law behind one.

Looking at Part 3 of the Act:

* Chapter 2 makes it a criminal offence for a private person on private or public land to immobilise a vehicle (e.g. by clamping or obstructing), or to move a vehicle, with a view to denying the owner access to it. Section 99 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 is amended to extend and amend the powers of public authorities to move vehicles parked obstructively, illegally, or dangerously, including on private land.

* Clamping of vehicles and provisions relating to charging registered keepers of vehicles where a contract has been entered into with landowners or their agents, dealt with by Clauses 54-56 and Schedule 4 of the Act. These would have the effect of making it possible for clients to attempt to reclaim unpaid 'parking charges' from the registered keeper of a vehicle in cases where it is not known who was driving at the time of the charge notice being issued.

Under the original wording of the Bill as introduced, clamping would be unlawful on private car-parks unless entrances are barriered. However, Clause 54 was amended at Report stage in the House of Commons such that clamping would be unlawful regardless of the existence of a barrier.

Large and small private landowners often have special privileged parking areas for those members of the public who are disabled to the point where they are allowed to use the Blue Badge scheme.

One of the well-known problems with the Blue Badge system in this country for the disabled in place is: Misuse.

Essentially, most abuse of private disabled parking spaces fall into three categories:

1. Drivers who are not allowed to use Blue Badge parking their vehicles on those spaces

2. Real disabled Blue Badge holders overstaying on said spaces if the private landowner elects to have a time limit for them

3. Fraudulent use of the Blue Badge by third parties
On his own grounds the landlord can select what conditions to impose on the disabled Blue Badge holder,

As from 1 October this very year, the use of the clamp and the tow will be outside the law and there are stringent enforced punishments for those who defy the law.

The disabled Blue Badge driver has an approaching problem starting on 1 October, 2012 insofar that two of the measures large landlords used to protect him/her about privileged parking are about to be illegal under statute.

This is because the private landlord could before 1 October 2012, but not afterwards, legally clamp and/or tow away vehicles wrongly parked on disabled parking bays reserved especially for Blue Badge holders.

A professional firm knows that if a landlord is planning to re-mark his car parking areas, then bay sizes might need to be slightly larger than those originally marked.

While there are no laws governing the size of standard parking bays, the minimum width for a disabled parking bay is 3.6m and the distance from a disabled parking bay to the building entrance must be no more than 50m if open-air or 100m if covered.

The cost of road marking one disabled parking bay is in the 65-76 range at the time of this writing.

To make line marking installation easy a landlord can buy thermoplastic line marking online, receive it in the post and then install in a matter of days.

As a result of new technology one can melt both thermoplastic disabled symbols and thermoplastic line marking onto the road surface with a blow torch; this eliminates the (very) expensive use of specialised vehicles although on extremely large sites they are still appropriate.

As for the local authorities, they each have different rules and regulations of their own devising about Blue Badge parking.

About the Author:
Ai Ismail is a researcher at Flashpark, the brand name of Vehicle Control Solutions Ltd which specialises in parking control and related subjects. Contact: http://www.flashpark.co.uk or 'phone 0208-444 2120.
Ali Ismail
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