Disabled parking bays at a Fife retail park ‘do not meet guidelines’ says charity

Disabled parking spaces at Fife Central Retail Park 
Pic: Fife Photo AgencyDisabled parking spaces at Fife Central Retail Park 
Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Disabled parking spaces at Fife Central Retail Park Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Kirkcaldy-based charity Disabilities Fife, claim disabled parking spaces at Fife Central Retail Park do not meet the current parking guidelines.

The spaces, which run perpendicular along the front of the shops are lined with a row of bollards on the pavement, meaning those with disabilities who use a ramp at the rear of their vehicle are forced to disembark onto a busy shopping access road as there is no other alternative available.

Charles Litster, Disabilities Fife chairman, said: “In my view, I am disappointed that the needs of the weakest in our society are not being met by the management of Fife Central Retail Park in Kirkcaldy.

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“Before the bollards were erected the management had a responsibility to produce an Equality Impact Assessment or involve the access panel that is Disabilities Fife in the planning of this project.

“The bollards near the disabled parking area in my view do not meet the current parking space guidelines.

“In some cases there is no easy way for a disabled person to leave their car either as a driver or passenger.

“In other cases disabled people may be forced to leave a vehicle from the rear on to a busy shopping access road instead of leaving from the rear onto a pavement.

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“Leaving a vehicle from the rear on to a busy access road is clearly discouraged in good access panel guidelines.

“It is particularly disappointing as it is not encouraging the disabled to shop at this retail park.

“It appears the spend of the disabled purple pound is being discouraged in Kirkcaldy.”

Alvin Buchanan, from Kirkcaldy, whose wife Alison was left needing to use a mobility scooter after their house was destroyed in a gas explosion in 1990, has raised concerns over the lack of adequate disabled parking spaces.

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He said: “It can be quite dangerous when using the disabled spaces at the retail park.

“When I’m unloading Alison’s mobility scooter from the boot of our car I’m acutely aware of cars whizzing past, I can only imagine how hard it must be for people who use ramps at the rear of their vehicle – the retail park really doesn’t cater for people with ramps.

“Other drivers seem to not see me when I’m at the rear of my car trying to get the scooter out, I’m always aware that I might be hit by a car at any time.

“Despite all of the legislation created to help disabled people, others really don’t think about them at all.

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“They are so far down the pecking order – Alison can be completely invisible to some people.”

Lynne Scott’s son Adam suffers from a chromosome deletion meaning he has no mobility, is blind, has multiple health conditions and relies on his wheelchair and rear loading vehicle to travel.

The manager of the Nourish Family Support Centre for people with additional needs knows better than most the daily struggle people with mobility issues face when trying to find appropriate parking.

Lynne said: “I think the disabled spaces at the retail park are dangerous for disabled people.

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“They can be quite hard to get into as you can’t reverse into them because of the bollards and if you have a ramp at the rear of your vehicle it descends onto the road at the front of the shops.

“There are not enough disabled spaces for the size of the retail park – it’s crazy.

“The parking situation puts me off from shopping there, we go elsewhere as it is not disabled friendly, especially now some shops have turned the disabled bays into an area for click and collect – it’s discrimination against people with additional needs.

“It wouldn’t take much to make it more accessible, maybe enforce a one way system to make it safer for wheelchair users.”

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The popular shopping destination was sold in 2018 as part of a £400m deal to real estate investment firm, Capreon, which is owned by British property investor Leo Noé.

And the firm say the disabled bays comply with guidelines.

A spokesperson said: “Capreon through their managing agent Savills have advised that the disabled access parking at the Fife Central Retail Park is currently fully health and safety compliant.

“However, as the Park has been developed in phases we do recognise that the marked hatching around the disabled spaces provided are not uniform across the whole car park in order to accommodate later regulations on accessibility.

“Unfortunately the older sections of the car park are limited by the space available.

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“The health and safety of all our shoppers is our highest concern and we constantly review all the car parking spaces provided, including those for our disabled customers, to determine if further improvements can be made.

“Capreon and Savills are willing to meet with any interest groups to discuss the parking regulations and any issues with the disabled car parking provided to determine if further improvements can be made.”

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