A FIFE disability group has said it is boycotting Kirkcaldy town centre after Blue Badge holders were banned from parking on the High Street.
In the latest protest against the regeneration works, Fife Independent Disability Network told the Press they are advising customers to shop elsewhere in protest to the recent blue badge controversy.
The move comes after works bosses said safety fears during the £2m revamp meant banning vehicles from May 11 for five months.
As an alternative, Fife Council said disabled people can use the Esplanade car park at level four, which gives direct access to the Mercat Shopping Centre.
However, a number of blue badge holders have said this does not make access any easier for those who have difficulty walking.
Muriel Macgregor, manager at the Network, said: “The million disabled people in Scotland have £6.8 billion spending power, not including family members.
Lack of choice
‘’We are advising them all to avoid Kirkcaldy. Do not give them your money - go shopping in Glenrothes or Dunfermline. It’s as simple as that.
“I can understand the safety issue, but disabled people don’t have the choice like you or I have to access the High Street in a different way.
‘‘Safety has to be considered, but they have the same rights as us to lead the same life.
“We are trying to communicate with the Council on this - it will hopefully then take it on board.”
Blue Badge holder Margaret Dumbreck (74), told the Press her pass became her lifeline after years of suffering in an attempt to reach the shops. She said the ban would mean hundreds of people would turn away from the High Street.
She said: “I am dismayed that it has come to a disability group going as far as advising people to avoid the High Street.
‘‘We need to be listened to and we need to have conversations with our councillors and transportation department.
Parking too distant
‘‘When I found out I qualified for a Blue Bdge it was wonderful - it meant going to the shops again.
‘‘On Saturday I attempted to walk into the High Street from the nearest outlying parking I could find. I ended up back in the car in tears because it was just too much.
“The Council said the ban was in consultation with others - I would like to know which blue badge holders they consulted.”
Tim Masters, asset management and projects lead officer, said the dangers posed by vehicles during the works were considered unacceptable.
He said: “While we realised that it would have an effect on Blue Badge holders, the risk of an incident between a vehicle and a pedestrian was too great and considered avoidable.
“The implementation of this temporary order has been a difficult decision to make as it requires people with mobility issues to relocate, however, the overwhelming priority is the safety of pedestrians and workers.
“Concerns have been raised by some members of the public and interest groups, but they are asked to assist by complying with the order and using the alternative parking facilities.”