DRIVERS in Enniskillen are being called on to do the decent thing and leave disabled parking spaces in the town centre free for those who need them.
It has emerged that since the changes made to town centre streets as part of the Enniskillen Public Realm scheme, parking legislation that would ordinarily see those parking in a disabled space without a blue badge receive a fine, is not currently in force on some town centre streets. This has led to non-blue badge holders taking up the spaces, often for the entire day.
Cllr Victor Warrington is a blue badge holder himself, and was annoyed to find two cars parked in disabled spaces on Townhall Street one morning last week. He said while one of the cars drove off while he was still there, the other, a BMW that did not have a blue badge, was still there late that afternoon, and he had been told it was parked in the same space again the next day.
Having made contact with the Roads Service at the Department of Infrastructure about the matter, Cllr Warrington was told that since the beginning of the public realm scheme and changes to parking spaces on the town centre streets, the authorities have not been able to enforce the normal rules that apply.
“When the Public Realm Scheme was done from Belmore Street right up to Darling Street, the legislation that was in place with DFI to enforce parking on the street was left null and void due to the layout,” he explained. “It all has to be measured again and put back through the powers-that-be and be signed off by a minister.”
Cllr Warrington said the issue was currently with DfI to be addressed, but in the meantime neither traffic wardens or the police could enforce disabled parking rules on the streets. It should be noted, as the Council as responsibility for car parks, traffic wardens are still able to issue fines in local car parks.
The issue of lack of parking enforcement has also been impacting local on-street businesses, with many staff who work in the town centre now parking on the street all day long, taking up spaces from customers.
Last month the Herald reported on how this was impacting local trade, including at local pharmacies, with customers unable to get a convenient space nearby.
“At the end of the day, there are people in those businesses who know that either their staff or themselves are parking all day,” said Cllr Warrington.
With regard the disabled parking, he appealed to drivers to leave the spaces free for blue badge holders for the sake of simple decency and manners.
“I would rather not need a blue badge. I’d love to have the ability to park in a car park and walk, but that’s just not possible,” he said, noting the delay in getting the new legislation through at a Department which currently has no minister due to the Stormont impasse.
“Please, please, please leave those spaces for people who need them.”
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