Disability issues

I had to appear before the Cambridgeshire Parliament the other week. An organisation called Speaking Up has set up this parliament, consisting entirely of disabled people. They have their own MPs and cabinet members, and there were a number of matters

I had to appear before the Cambridgeshire 'Parliament' the other week. An organisation called Speaking Up has set up this parliament, consisting entirely of disabled people. They have their own 'MPs' and cabinet members, and there were a number of matters affecting disabled people that they wanted to discuss with me.

It was a great eye-opener. They had done a lot of research, and argued their cases very articulately. We have undertaken to look seriously at what they wanted and go back to them with considered answers.

For instance, they pointed out that the 9.30am start time for the validity of free bus passes may be all very well for OAPs with time on their hands, but it is a fairly limiting factor for a disabled person trying to get to work on time. It would seem reasonable at least to discuss the pros and cons of having two different categories of bus pass. The answer will not be quick or simple, but we will look at it.

In the same vein, have you noticed how many more apparently able-bodied people park in the disabled slots in the Huntingdon Tesco store than do in the Huntingdon Sainsbury's? The reason is that the Sainsbury car park is a district council car park and the district council has enforcers there. I have seen them issue a ticket to a most disgruntled person who "was only parking there briefly because I was in a hurry".


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When it comes to the Tesco car park, they have a problem. It is their private property, so only they can enforce it. But, not unnaturally, they are reluctant to irritate the offenders because they are customers. I wonder if there would be any mileage in the supermarket offering a peppercorn rent lease of the car park to the district council to make it a district council car park. The council could then, as at Sainsbury's, be seen as an impartial enforcer. We would have to pay (as we do at Sainsbury) but customers would get their money back at the checkout. That would give the district council an income to fund the enforcers.

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