First Person - with Kevin McRoberts

Kevin McRoberts
Kevin McRoberts

I’M fortunate in that I don’t have a disability. I hope it remains that way, if not for the rest of my life, for a very, very long time.

I can walk around the town centre and visit the shops I want to go to (which admittedly tends to be a sandwich shop and not much more if I can avoid it).

I can stroll around the pedestrianised area in the High Street if I want. I even have the ability to step out of the way of a car being driven by a blue badge holder. It’s not that difficult.

So it’s okay for me. Monday to Sunday, any time of the day or night, if I really want to, I can access the pedestrianised zone in Kirkcaldy High Street.

Why then should access to this special place be restricted for people who already have to endure many restrictions in their lives? Is that really fair?

Fife Council has been carrying out a consultation to seek views on vehicle access to this pedestrianised zone.

Various options suggest allowing blue badge holders – people with disabilities – the privilege of being able to drive their cars into this area, but only between certain times.

That effectively means they are banned from this area outwith these times as their mobility is restricted by their disabilities and parking their car somewhere else leaves them too far away.

Exhaustion

Even when they do have access, many can only manage to visit one or two shops before pain or exhaustion (or both) forces them to call it a day.

So should we really be making life more difficult for this section of society who already have more than enough to cope with in their lives?

How would other sections of society react if they were denied access?

What about banning prams and buggies? They can easily block the aisles in shops, forcing people to wait for a moment or two to get past?

What about banning office workers at lunch times? They cause queues at sandwich shops and bakeries as they rush around town before heading back to their desks.

Or children? They wander about all over the place getting in the way.

Why should it just be one section of society who are disadvantaged by access restrictions being placed on them?

Yes, I know blue badge holders use their cars to gain access. And I’m sure many lazy people are jealous of that.

Why should these people with blue badges be allowed to park outside M&S and they’re not? Well, it’s because their legs don’t work properly.

Don’t look on it as a privilege. It’s a small way of giving people with disabilities some of the access most of us take for granted.

Argument

There is the argument that there’s too many blue badge holders’ cars clogging up the High Street.

But perhaps that’s due to the restrictions and the fact they only have a limited time to be there. Perhaps if it was opened up to all day access you wouldn’t find so many cars there all at once.

As for the public safety argument, the police have confirmed there have been no recorded accidents in the pedestrianised zone involving the vehicles of blue badge holders in the last two years.

I don’t believe blue badge holders cause any great problem in the High Street, as the vast majority, if not all, are incredibly careful when driving in this area.

However, people who abuse the blue badges, able-bodied drivers who ignore the restrictions, inconsiderate delivery van drivers and irresponsible cyclists, well, they do cause problems.

Pedestrianised or not, you still need to keep your wits about you or you’re likely to be struck by a bicycle coming from any direction or collide with one of those really annoying people with earphones plugged in who are completely oblivious to the world around them.

Let’s pick on them instead.