Almost 1000 fines have been handed out to Derry drivers who wrongly park in designated disabled bays since the start of 2011.
Foyle SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood says drivers need to be aware that wrongly parking in disabled spaces “even for a short period, cannot be excused”.
Department of Regional Development figures given to the ‘Journal’ show a total of 982 penalty charge notices were issued in the city between January 1, 2011 and the start of August of this year - that’s around 50 every month.
“Disabled bays are planned and located for specific and sound reasons, they should be used by Blue Badge holders only,” Mr Eastwwod says.
“A journey into the city centre requires special effort for many disabled people, it is not a casual decision. These accessible bays are there to help those living with a disability, ensuring they can go about their business more easily.”
He says there are a number of issues around parking in Derry - not least the lack of spaces - that make life difficult for motorists.
“However, the use of disability bays by non-disabled motorists, for even a short period, cannot be excused.
“Disabled people have enough to face without having to battle for the parking spaces which have been designed for them.”
Journal reporter Catherine Doran, who lives with Multiple Sclerosis, says people who wrongly park in disabled bays show little consideration for the consequences of their actions.
She says the figures are of little surprise.
“As someone who has Multiple Sclerosis, having a Blue Badge is the difference between me living an independent life or having to stay at home. I’m not surprised at this year’s figures.
“There have been many occasions when I have had to abandon my plans because a space was not available. It is extremely frustrating to see someone park in a disabled bay without a badge.”