‘Not one car had a blue badge on it’

The woman says this police car was parked outside Altnagelvin Hospital's A&E Department  in a disabled parking bay on Sunday morning last.
The woman says this police car was parked outside Altnagelvin Hospital's A&E Department in a disabled parking bay on Sunday morning last.

A Derry mum has called on the Western Trust to enforce an immediate clamping policy on drivers who park illegally in disabled spots at Altnagelvin Hospital.

The woman told the ‘Journal’ how she had attended the hospital on Sunday morning so her daughter, who uses a wheelchair, could have her bloods taken.

“I try and get a spot outside A&E because it’s easier to get into the hospital with all of the stuff,” she said.

“Sometimes you don’t get a spot and you have to go into the paying car park, but I accept that.”

The mum said she was horrified when she checked the other cars on Sunday and none of them were displaying a blue badge. She also claimed that one of the parking bays was being used by police.

“I think it is sick that people would use a disabled spot when they don’t have a badge and should police use the space when they are supposed to be enforcing the law?”

The woman explained that she requires a disabled space to get good scope when she is taking her daughter out of the car and into the wheelchair.

“I have a lot of stuff that I need to take with me, “ she added. “I would understand if people were just using the space for a second or two, but I was in the ward for nearly an hour and when I came back the spaces were still being occupied.”

She said if the Western Trust enforced a zero tolerance policy and clamped those in disabled bays without a blue badge it would stop drivers from abusing them.

“It happens all the time,” she said. “If people thought they were going to be clamped they wouldn’t park there. It’s simple, if you don’t have a blue badge then don’t use the space.

“I struggle on a daily basis with it.”

The ‘Journal’ recently highlighted complaints made by members of the public regarding police using disabled bays in the hospital.

A PSNI spokesman told the ‘Journal’: “Police officers are instructed not to park in disabled bays while on any routine business and we apologise if any inconvenience was caused.

“If, though, an emergency situation arises that needs urgent attention, we hope people will understand that it may sometimes be necessary to use the nearest available parking facility.”

Recently the Western Trust approved new ‘Car Parking Operational Procedures’ for Altnagelvin Hospital.

The control measures include: applying an unauthorised parking notice to cars, parking charge notices and in exceptional circumstances the towing away of a vehicle, where there is a direct risk to the delivery of emergency clinical services.

The new car parking procedure are to be implemented early this year following some key enabling works on both sites which include appropriate signage and information for site users.

Teresa Molloy, Director of Performance and Service Improvement for the Western Trust said: “These procedures are key to ensuring the Trust can safely and effectively manage traffic flow and car parking on our acute hospital sites.

“The procedures will support site users in accessing the various areas of the sites they need to get to, protect our emergency blue light routes, disabled parking spaces, reduce congestion and allow the Trust to implement fair and effective parking arrangements.”